Manchester United were held to a frustrating 1-1 draw with struggling West Ham United at Old Trafford on Sunday. The Reds were the better side for most of the match, but couldn’t add to their tally after Zlatan Ibrahimović cancelled out a Diafra Sakho opener in the first half. It is United’s fourth consecutive home league draw, and leaves them eight points adrift of fourth-placed Arsenal.
United fans were left fearing the worst when West Ham opened the scoring within two minutes. A perfect cross by Dimitri Payet was touched home by Sakho, and Old Trafford was stunned into a concerned silence. The hosts did see plenty of the ball in the following few minutes, but Payet remained a particular threat on the counter-attack.
However, United weathered the storm, and drew level from nowhere midway through the opening period. Ibrahimović tracked a simple floated ball from Paul Pogba rather better than the Hammers’ defender James Collins, and was left with the simple task of glancing a header past Darren Randolph and into the back of the net. Having gifted West Ham an early opener, it rather felt like they’d been equally generous in return.
The next drama followed just short of the half-hour mark, with United boss José Mourinho once again courting controversy from the touchline. Pogba was booked for a rather pointless dive in midfield, earning both a yellow card and a suspension for the League Cup rematch with the Hammers in midweek. Mourinho took the decision particularly badly, kicking a water bottle, and was subsequently sent to the stands for his troubles.
On the field, things were equally entertaining, and United should've taken the lead when Marcus Rashford surged through one-on-one shortly before halftime; however, Randolph got down well to block the young striker’s delicate finish. The Irish goalkeeper made another outstanding save before the whistle, diving low to his left to deny Jesse Lingard in stoppage time.
United had reason for optimism when the second half got underway, but West Ham started the second half much better than they had finished the first. After 20 rather frustrating minutes, United's bench responded with the introduction of Wayne Rooney and Henrikh Mkhitaryan for Marcus Rashford and Juan Mata respectively. Rooney’s impact was almost immediate, though his low drive on an Ibrahimović layoff was tame, and comfortably smothered by Randolph.
The hosts remained on top, and a powerful Lingard volley from the edge of the penalty area was snatched by Randolph only at the second attempt. Mkhitaryan thought he’d finally broken the deadlock a few minutes later, only for the assistant referee to raise his flag after the Armenian tapped a rebound home from point-blank range.
United were laying siege to the Hammers’ box, and Pogba drew another great save from Randolph with a low drive with just over 10 minutes left on the clock. It was almost entirely one-way traffic, until Michail Antonio surged forward on a rare West Ham counter in the final five minutes. The ball broke to former United trainee Ashley Fletcher in the box, though his effort was fortunately blocked by David de Gea at the near post, and the game ended all-square.