If anyone thought West Ham were ready to give up their Champions League dream, they could not have been more mistaken.
On a wet and windy night at Turf Moor, the kind that separates the men from the boys, David Moyes’ side recovered from going a goal behind early on to beat a very capable Burnley side with two goals from Michail Antonio on his first appearance for a month.
It put the Hammers into fifth, above Tottenham and three points off Chelsea in fourth with four games to play. The first of those, at home to Everton on Sunday, won’t be easy, but the next three — against Brighton, West Brom and Southampton — are clearly winnable.
Michail Antonio’s quickfire double turned the game on its head and took West Ham up to fifth
Chris Wood put Burnley ahead for his seventh goal in eight games against the Hammers
Wood also made it seven goals in as many games after his assured spot kick at Turf Moor
After back-to-back defeats for the first time since the start of the season, Moyes knew there was little margin for error if the top four was to remain a realistic target.
‘We haven’t got much room for many defeats, that’s for sure,’ he said before kick-off. ‘We’re not going gung-ho, we’re not doing anything stupid.’
It might not have been what Moyes would call gung-ho but it was a very open first half that produced three goals in the opening 30 minutes.
Burnley scored the first of them when Ashley Westwood curled a long ball into the inside right channel for Chris Wood to chase, closely pursued by Issa Diop.
The Burnley striker kept the ball in and flicked it over Diop’s head before he was brought down by an untidy challenge from Tomas Soucek. Wood picked himself to score his seventh goal in as many games, steering the penalty inside Lukasz Fabianski’s right-hand post even though the keeper guessed the right way.
The lead lasted just two minutes, however, when Dwight McNeil tried to break forward but lost possession midway inside his own half. Jesse Lingard played the ball to Vladimir Coufal to cross to the back post where Antonio powered in between Matt Lowton and James Tarkowski to head in from close range.
The Hammers were ahead in the 29th minute when Antonio struck again from a similar distance. Lingard led a breakaway down the left and fed the ball to Said Benrahma. His inswinging cross into the six-yard box evaded four Burnley players, including Wood’s attempt at a diving header, and Antonio touched the ball past Nick Pope.
Burnley were clearly targeting Diop’s lack of mobility and when Lowton swung another long ball into the channel, Matej Vydra got there first to flick the ball over him and then Craig Dawson who recovered in time to head the Czech’s effort off the line.
Antonio could have had a hat-trick early in the second half when Pablo Fornals made room for a shot that reached his team-mate five yards out, but the striker somehow managed to play the ball against his left foot with his right and direct it wide.
Burnley were guilty of an even worse miss shortly afterwards when Josh Brownhill’s first-time shot produced an excellent save from Fabianski and Coufal blocked Jay Rodriguez’s first effort before the substitute scrambled his second attempt wide from point-black range. It was a big escape for West Ham and one that keeps their Champions League hopes alive.