West Ham United 0-3 Burnley: anger and chaos overshadow the football at London Stadium
By Daniel J. McLaughlin
East London was awash with Claret and Blue as West Ham United welcomed Burnley to the London Stadium.
And claret and blue were the colours that protesting fans could have ended up inflicting as they vented their fury to West Ham's owners David Gold and David Sullivan, who were forced to depart early. The chaos and toxic environment in the aftermath of their 3-0 defeat overshadowed the football on offer.
The pitch was stormed four times during the Premier League clash. Hammers captain Mark Noble tried to send push one pitch invader away and Burnley's Ashley Barnes tripped another, while a West Ham supporter grabbed one of the corner flags and moved it around the field.
Chants of "We're not West Ham anymore", “Sack the board” and “Where's the money gone?" were heard around the ill-tempered London Stadium.
Rather than the battle of the pitch invaders, let's look at the relegation battle the Hammers are facing - and how Burnley added to their struggle. The visitors struck three times in the second half to narrow the gap between themselves and Arsenal in sixth place.
West Ham were the better side in the first 45 minutes. Marko Arnautovic and Manuel Lanzini both came close - the latter was denied by the legs of goalkeeper Nick Pope at the near post. Aaron Lennon was lucky not to concede a penalty after the Burnley midfielder's arm was struck by a cross from Aaron Cresswell.
The hosts' downfall and the flaring of anger was caused when Ashley Barnes scored in the 66th minute. The striker received the ball from substitute Chris Wood on the edge of the box, and hit it first time into the top corner.
Wood made an immediate impact off the bench, and the architect of the opener became the goalscorer for their second. He doubled their lead just four minutes later. With Burnley working the ball in the box, Lennon found the Kiwi unmarked in the centre, and he turned the ball past Joe Hart into the back of the net.
The striker, who only returned from injury after more than two months against Everton last week, made a big difference once again. While the Kiwi had mastered the art of the comeback, Hart still has a lot to prove after being called back to the West Ham squad. Hart fumbled a long range shot from Johann Berg Gudmundsson, and Wood was on hand to make the most of the error by beating the goalkeeper in the 81st minute.
West Ham United will welcome Southampton in their next league game - with tempers hopefully reduced - on Saturday, March 31 (K.O. 3pm). Burnley will travel to West Bromwich Albion in their bid for a place in the Europa League (K.O. 3pm).