Hammers beaten in late spot-kick drama

Premier League – London Stadium

West Ham United 1-2 Manchester United

Mark Noble’s stoppage-time penalty was saved by David de Gea as Manchester United won this pulsating Premier League clash at the London Stadium

Two unbeaten records on the line – Ronaldo in town – Optimism high in both camps. It was certainly, as ever, an eagerly anticipated encounter. Hammers boss, David Moyes, once of course employed by the visitors’ felt little different.

“I’m really looking forward to it because the London Stadium was incredible against Leicester City and against Crystal Palace,” the Scotsman enthused.

“I think we have a different West Ham support in the stadium.

“We’ve got great support behind the team and I think they are seeing a new more exciting team as well. So from that point of view we are hoping for a rocking stadium, but it won’t be anything that Manchester United aren’t used to wherever they go, you know that they’re going up against teams who bring big support and they’re used to the situation.”

In the absence of suspended Michail Antonio, Moyes handed home debuts to Kurt Zouma and Nikola Vlašić – two of four changes in the hosts’ line-up.

Ahead of kick-off, both sets of supporters honoured the late Jimmy Greaves. A legendary figure – a one-off – from the games simpler, but altogether more rugged and flamboyant era.

Jarrod Bowen and Said Benrahma combined to create the games first clearcut opportunity – the latter running into heavy traffic amidst the United backline. Meanwhile, Tomas Soucek was hurried in his shot – the visitor let off the hook – the home crowd encouraged.

Hammers were enjoying the better of proceedings. David de Gea stuck out a boot to thwart Bowen – Soucek blazing the pieces too high.
Meanwhile, Ronaldo’s first contribution came to nothing, a shimmy and a shuffle, but a shot gobbled up comfortably by Lukasz Fabianski.

Fabianski turned a fierce Bruno Fernandes volley onto an upright, then clung on to Luke Shaw’s well-struck effort as United countered. But shortly before the half-hour mark, West Ham deservedly grabbed an advantage. Benrahma’s shot deflected wickedly off Raphael Varane, leaving de Gea wrong-footed and the audience largely ecstatic.

But the elation was short-lived. Ronaldo – who else? – followed up to score from close range after Fabianski had kept out his initial effort. VAR gave it the once over – The Hammers Polish stopper perhaps left disappointed that he’d not done better?

Cristiano Ronaldo nets Manchester United’s first-half leveller against West Ham United at the London Stadium (Rob Newell CameraSport)

But it was entertaining stuff. Ronaldo forced Fabianski into a smart save low to his right, while at the other end, Nikola Vlasic swept over following a flowing West Ham move culminating in Aaron Cresswell picking out the lively Croatian.

Fabianski superbly raced from his goal to deny Ronaldo immediately after the restart. West Ham responded, but Bowen’s attempt proved less taxing for de Gea to deal with.

But the game – tense and nerve-jangling – had lost a little of its first-half spark. Moyes replaced Vlasic with Andriy Yarmolenko, while a warm reception was provided for Jesse Lingard, who along with Jadon Sancho arrived for Mason Greenwood and Paul Pogba – Ole Gunnar Solskaer, like his opposite number not content with a share of the spoils.

Ronaldo was left bemused after referee Martin Atkinson waved away his appeals for a spot-kick following a coming together with Vladimir Coufal. Meanwhile, Zouma read the situation perfectly to intercept as the Portuguese frontman looked to profit from close range.

But Lingard’s introduction was to have an adverse effect from a West Ham perspective. The former loanee appeared reluctant to celebrate after shifting onto his left foot and sending an explosive strike high beyond Fabianski. Harsh on the home side but a quality finish from the United substitute.

Incredibly, the drama hadn’t ended there. Luke Shaw handled Yarmolenko’s cross – VAR looked – Atkinson advised – A penalty awarded. Noble was hurried, perhaps ill-advised into the action, replacing Bowen to take the spot-kick. Unfortunately, his only contribution was pushed away by de Gea – the chance and points all gone in an instance.

West Ham United will again face Manchester United on Wednesday, September 22 when they travel to Old Trafford for a Carabao Cup third-round tie.

The Hammers return to Premier League action on Saturday 25 when they take on Leeds United at Elland Road (3pm).

West Ham United: Lukasz Fabianski, Aaron Cresswell, Kurt Zouma, Vladimir Coufal, Pablo Fornals, Nikola Vlasic (Andriy Yarmolenko 68’), Jarrod Bowen (Mark Noble 90+2′), Angelo Ogbonna, Said Benrahma (Manuel Lanzini 88’), Tomas Soucek, Declan Rice (Capt) Subs not used: Alphonse Areola (GK), Craig Dawson, Issa Diop, Ryan Fredericks, Arthur Masuaku, Alex Kral

Booked: None
Goals: Said Benrahma 30′

Manchester United: David de Gea, Harry Maguire (Capt), Paul Pogba (Jesse Lingard 73’), Cristiano Ronaldo, Mason Greenwood (Jadon Sancho 73’), Fred (Nemanja Matic 88’), Bruno Fernandes, Raphael Varane, Luke Shaw, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Scott McTominay Subs not used: Tom Heaton (GK), Eric Bailly, Juan Mata, Anthony Martial, Diogo Dalot, Donny van de Beek

Booked: None
Goals: Cristiano Ronaldo 35′, Jesse Lingard 89′

Referee: Martin Atkinson
Assistants: Lee Betts and Richard West
Fourth Official: David Coote
VAR: Darren England

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Brian Jeeves

Email: [email protected]