Jesse Lingard

Jesse Lingard fires West Ham into Champions League driving seat with magical Wolves performance

Robbie Copeland
Apr 5, 2021, 10:30 PM GMT+1
Lingard was majestic against Wolves
Lingard was majestic against Wolves | Michael Regan/Getty Images

West Ham knew the task that lay in front of them when they travelled to the West Midlands on Monday evening.

Win and you're in the driving seat for the top four.

That wasn't meant to be an easy task against Wolves, but apparently no-one told that to Jesse Lingard.

We're fast running out of superlatives to describe the form he has shown since joining the Irons on loan in January, but in 45 explosive minutes at Molineux, he took things up yet another level.

His goal was one thing. After some great build-up play between Pablo Fornals and Vladimir Coufal, he took it to Wolves by himself, dissecting the home midfield with a slaloming run before passing beyond Rui Patricio into the bottom corner.

It was his sixth goal in eight league games for West Ham, and it's a wonder what confidence does to a player. Before Wolves were able to catch their breath, he had already engineered a second goal out of nothing.

Catching the ball at the corner flag, he turned Nelson Semedo inside-out with a wonderful turn, and sent the ball into the path of Arthur Masuaku, who picked out Fornals to double the lead.

By this point, Wolves were visibly terrified of going near him, and that was evident in the Irons' third. There were five home defenders facing Lingard as he charged into their half, but no-one dared to put a foot in, and he calmly played in Jarrod Bowen to put the game seemingly out of sight.

The home side had a go at getting back into it, and Leander Dendoncker and Fabio Silva set up a nervy finish. But the damage had been done by an explosive first 45, and West Ham edged into the top four.

Lingard's numbers since joining on loan from Manchester United are ridiculous. He's now scored six and assisted four in just 11 appearances, and looks completely transformed. If he keeps that up, he'll be heading to Euro 2020 with England in a couple of months time.

More pertinently from a West Ham perspective, though, there is every chance he will be heading to Europe with them soon after.

If he can keep creating goals out of nothing in their final eight matches, then the Champions League is very much in sight - and with that would surely come a substantial offer to sign him permanently.

It's Leicester City up next on Sunday, and that's a game that will tell us a lot about West Ham's credentials. Watching Lingard this evening, though, you wouldn't want to be Jonny Evans, Wesley Fofana, or whichever poor soul is tasked with marking him.