Manchester United v West Ham United – Premier League – Old Trafford – Report
Manchester United 1-0 West Ham United
A goal from Marcus Rashford deep into stoppage-time broke West Ham heart as Manchester United took the points and leapfrogged the East Londoners following an otherwise insipid encounter at Old Trafford.
David Moyes has made three changes to the side that started the Hammers 3-2 defeat at the hands of Leeds United a week previous. Alphonse Areola took over from Lukasz Fabianski in goal, while Kurt Zouma and Tomáš Souček returned from injury and illness respectively to provide the Scotsman with a more balanced line-up.
Frantic early exchanges were somewhat untidy and lacklustre. Jarrod Bowen ran into heavy traffic when attempting to dart clear. Meanwhile, the West Ham walk stood firm to rebuff Ronaldo’s dead-ball effort as half-chances came and went at a premium.
Ronaldo was a whisker away from a telling touch to Bruno Fernandes’ pin-point centre – Areola rooted to the spot and relieved as the ball fizzed the wrong side of an upright.
Areola was almost caught dawdling but redeemed himself with a superb save seconds later to deny Fred as United threatened immediately after the interval. Meanwhile, Bowen’s thumping effort hit the side netting after the hosts had failed to clear an Aaron Cresswell flag-kick, flicked on by Zouma.
The tempo had lifted, but perhaps not the quality in front of goal. Raphael Varane was unable to direct his header goalwards after arriving unchallenged, while Anthony Elanga fired wide as United began to look the more likely.
United’s lack of punch was beginning to frustrate the home crowd. West Ham – organised – remained unadventurous and happy to sit back and soak up whatever the hosts’ had to offer. The introduction of Edinson Cavani and Anthony Martial signalled United’s intentions during the latter stages. However, it was West Ham who came close to breaking the deadlock. Tomas Soucek’s glancing header was agonisingly wide following Bowen’s inswinging corner.
But there was to be a twist in the tail, orchestrated by United’s three substitutes. Ryan Fredericks’ poor header was latched onto by Martial, who fed Cavani – The Uruguayan raced clear before picking out Rashford who rolled into an empty net from close range. It was to be the last action of the contest and hardly the outcome Moyes’ men deserved.
West Ham United now turn their attention to the Emirates FA Cup where they face Kidderminster Harriers at Aggborough on Saturday, February 5 (12:30pm).
Manchester United: De Gea; Dalot, Varane, Maguire (Capt), Telles, McTominay, Fred (Cavani 82′), Fernandes, Elanga (Rashford 62′), Ronaldo, Greenwood (Martial 82′) Subs not used: Henderson, Jones, Matic, van de Beek, Lingard, Mata
Booked: Harry Maguire (foul)
Goals: Marcus Rashford 90+3′
West Ham United: Areola; Coufal (Fredericks 70′), Dawson, Zouma, Cresswell, Rice (Capt), Souček, Bowen, Lanzini, Fornals, Antonio Subs not used: Randolph (GK), Diop, Masuaku, Johnson, Král, Noble, Vlašić, Yarmolenko
Booked: Declan Rice (foul)
Referee: Jonathan Moss
Assistants: Marc Perry and Timothy Wood
Fourth Official: Michael Salisbury
VAR: Paul Tierney
Assistant VAR: Ian Hussin