West Ham United 2-0 Manchester United
A GOAL IN EACH HALF from Andriy Yarmolenko and Aaron Cresswell fired West Ham United to victory over Manchester United and added fuel to the flames suggesting the London Stadium outfit are serious challengers for a top-seven spot this season.
Perhaps unusually, it was West Ham who headed into the match with their tails up. The East Londoners – unbeaten in four league outings – were eyeing up a place at the top table which could be achieved with a victory. And with the Hammers still fondly recalling a comfortable 3-1 success over United at a similar stage of the previous campaign, confidence and expectation was high amongst the claret and blues clad fans as they arrived ahead of the contest.
Defender, Issa Diop, echoed the buoyant mood: “Sunday’s going to be a different game, so we have to try to do the same thing as last year,” the Frenchman explained.
“We have to play our football and not think about Manchester United.
“We have a very good team and can beat anyone, so we are confident. In the Premier League, every game is difficult, but we are ready for this game. I think if we play our football, we’re a team who can do anything.”
Nevertheless, a scruffy, frantic opening was rather summed up by Angelo Ogbonna’s ugly challenge on Andreas Pereira – the Italian defender cautioned for his troubles, perhaps ‘taking one for the team’ after possession had been carelessly given away for the umpteenth time – a trait both sides were equally frustratingly guilty of considering the quality at their disposal.
Declan Rice provided a timely intervention, thwarting Marcus Rashford’s route to goal, while tame efforts from Nemanja Matic and Yarmolenko were unlikely to trouble Lukasz Fabianski and David de Gea as the game struggled to find its feet.
Mark Noble’s deflected volley offered de Gea more of a challenge – the Spanish stopper sprawling to his left to gather comfortably. But when a moment of quality finally arrived, it brought the house down. Noble and Felipe Anderson teed up Yarmolenko – the Ukrainian skipping onto his left foot before firing low, beyond de Gea two minutes before the break.
Juan Mata was unable to provide a clean contact to Pereira’s pinpoint centre as United looked to respond swiftly after the restart. West Ham responded, but de Gea rebuffed from Anderson after Yarmolenko had slotted through the proverbial ‘keyhole’ to create an opening.
The tempo and quality had clearly gone up a gear – although a crisp final ball continued to come at a premium. Meanwhile, Fabianski took no chances, pushing Scott McTominay’s driven centre behind as the visitor’s threat continued to build momentum.
But a United revival in this particular match – similar to expectations for the Reds in recent years – proved to be another false dawn.
Having already fizzed an earlier free-kick a fraction too high, Creswell – back in the side in place of the suspended Arthur Masuaku – brilliantly bent, left-footed over the United wall, and despite de Gea getting a hand to the strike – its destination – the top corner of the net – was never in doubt.
West Ham United now turn their attentions to the Carabao Cup, facing Oxford United at the Kassam Stadium on Wednesday, September 25 (7:45pm). They return to Premier League action on Saturday 28 when they take on AFC Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium (3pm).
West Ham United: Lukasz Fabianski, Aaron Cresswell, Andriy Yarmolenko (Robert Snodgrass 88’), Felipe Anderson (Jack Wilshere 70’), Mark Noble (Capt), Pablo Fornals, Angelo Ogbonna, Sebastien Haller, Issa Diop, Ryan Fredericks (Pablo Zabaleta 80’) Declan Rice Subs not used: Roberto (GK), Fabian Balbuena, Carlos Sanchez, Albian Ajeti
Booked: Angelo Ogbonna (foul), Mark Noble (foul)
Goals: Andriy Yarmolenko 44’, Aaron Cresswell 84’
Manchester United: David de Gea, Victor Lindelof, Harry Maguire, Juan Mata (Angel Gomes 81’) Marcus Rashford (Jesse Lingard 61), Andreas Pereira, Ashley Young (Capt), Daniel James, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Nemanja Matic (Fred 71’), Scott McTominay Subs not used: Sergio Romero (GK), Marcos Rojo, Fred, Axel Tuanzebe, Tahith Chong
Booked: Juan Mata (foul), Ashley Young (foul)
Referee: Anthony Taylor
Assistants: Gary Beswick and Adam Nunn
Fourth Official: Lee Mason
Reaction to follow…