Antonio’s return boosts West Ham Champions League hopes

The defeat by Chelsea last week looked like this could, maybe cost West Ham a place in the Champions League next season. But David Moyes’ team doesn’t give up so easily.

They responded to the disaster once again with a battle victory in Turf Moore on Monday and had one person to thank.

Mikhail Antonio missed his last three games with an injury, but returned here to show what they missed. The striker was the difference at night, which made his presence feel like an amazing performance in the first half, which turned Burnley’s early lead.

Mikhail Antonio's head flies
Antonio Heather flies to | Gareth Copley / Getty Images

He was unlikely to be in the game when Vladimir Kufal’s cross spiraled over his head, but he sent it past Nick Pope with interest, giving his team a lifeline after a shaky start to the game.

It was just two minutes after Chris Wood’s penalty gave Burnley the lead and it kicked Irons to life. After a ten-minute retreat, they were ahead, and while Said Benrahma deserved much of the credit for his excellent delivery, Antonio received the slightest touch to direct him into the far corner.

A quieter second half followed than the big man, but with Benrahma as his winger, he continued to prove his worth to the team with his relentless ability to hold the ball.

Michael Antonio, Ben Mee
Ben Mi is trying to deal with Antonio, haha Gareth Copley / Getty Images

He took on the role of this unpleasantly good player from five sides, fully aware of the fact that he is much better than anyone who tries to deal with him. He skipped past challenge after challenge to keep his team on the ball and lead them, leading them to a potentially priceless victory.

The victory leaves West Ham in a tempting position in their pursuit of the Champions League. They lost consecutive games against Chelsea and Newcastle, but now they are only three points away from the fourth. With the other four games, it’s all about play.

Their last four races were Everton (H), Brighton (A), West Brom (A), Southampton (H). Three of these teams are firmly rooted in the bottom half of the table.

In this form, Antonio will lick his lips

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