West Ham United hosted Manchester United at the London Stadium on Sunday, with the chance to go 7 points clear of the drop zone – almost guaranteeing survival this late into the season. Meanwhile, United would be looking to bounce back from their defeat at Brighton last time out. Victory here would see them reclaim 3rd place in the league after Newcastle’s loss earlier in the day.
WHU: Fabianski; Cresswell, Ogbonna, Aguerd, Kehrer; Rice, Soucek; Benrahma, Paqueta, Bowen; Antonio
MUN: De Gea; Malacia, Shaw, Lindelof, Wan-Bissaka; Eriksen, Casemiro; Fernandes, Weghorst, Antony; Rashford
The game started off at a frantic pace with end-to-end football. However, it wasn’t too long before the away side established their presence in the game and took control of the proceedings. Fernandes came close to opening the scoring in the 7th minute when his shot from just outside the area narrowly trickled wide of the post. Just minutes later, Antony hammered a volley that also went wide off the post after Weghorst laid it off to him with his chest.
Marcus Rashford has been experiencing a dry spell as of late, but the forward sprung into action in the 17th minute – isolating Kehrer before launching a shot that cannoned off the near post to keep the game goalless.
Despite all the early dominance from United, it was West Ham who opened the scoring completely against the run of play. The lead was gifted to them by David De Gea, after Said Benrahma picked up the ball around the half way line, carrying it a few yards before launching a tame effort that was trickling towards the Spaniard – who rather bizarrely let the ball slip through his grasp for the opener.
Manchester United seemed to have left their shooting boots at Carrington, as in the 32nd minute Antony’s shot from outside the box also struck the post.
On the stroke of half-time, Paqueta played Benrahma in on goal but the wingers shot was denied by De Gea. On the follow-up, the ball seemed to come off the arm of Lindelof. Despite it looking like a stonewall penalty, VAR didn’t send the referee to the monitor – and that signalled the end of the first half.
Just like the end of the first half, the beginning of the second was also laced in controversy as Antonio turned the ball into the back of the net for West Ham, but was adjudged to have fouled De Gea in the process.
West Ham found themselves creating a plethora of chances in the second half, dominating the visitors. Rice came close in the 59th minute as he dribbled down the by-line but was denied by De Gea, before Paqueta clipped a ball towards Soucek on the volley – but the midfielder could only hit the side netting.
It was Paqueta involved again in the 62nd minute when he used some silky feet to launch an attempt that Antonio got his head to, but the ball flashed wide of the goal.
In the 77th minute, the Hammers scored again as Paqueta’s cross found Soucek – and the Czech midfielder duly turned it in. To the delight of the travelling United fans, the linesman’s flag was raised for offside, and the goal was disallowed.
After 30 minutes of pure West Ham dominance, Manchester United finally sprung into life when interplay between Rashford and Sabitzer sent the striker through on goal – but his effort was tipped over by Fabianski.
In the last minutes of the game Martial came close to drawing United level twice. Rashford linked up with the Frenchman as they played a one-two, only for the substitute’s effort to be denied by Fabianski. From the resulting corner, Martial found himself unmarked in the box but could only get a glance as the ball flew past the goal.
West Ham held on for a huge win in their season, as they move 7 points clear of the drop zone. The Hammers now welcome AZ Alkmaar on Thursday in the first leg of the Europa Conference League semi-finals, as they look to progress to Prague and lift European silverware for the first time since 1965.
Meanwhile, things begin to look a bit gloomy for United fans. Manchester United play Wolves next – with Julen Lopetegui’s side coming off the back of an inspired win against Aston Villa. It is simply a must win for Erik Ten Hag’s men if they wish to be playing Champions League football next year.