Manchester United need a miracle if they're to qualify for the Champions League, with Louis van Gaal's side having turned in a defensive horror show in a 3-2 defeat away at West Ham United on Tuesday. A brace by Anthony Martial wasn't even enough for a point in the final ever match at Upton Park, leaving Manchester City two points clear of the Reds in the final Champions League spot.
The game's kickoff was delayed by 45 minutes, with a classy selection of the West Ham support deciding to mark the special occasion by lobbing beer bottles at United's occupied team bus, and doing quite a bit of cosmetic damage in the process.
But when the action did finally get underway, you'd have been forgiven for thinking United's players had been on the receiving end of the glassing, with their first half performance little short of shambolic. A series of defensive mistakes allowed West Ham at least three clear-cut chances, though they fortuantely only managed to dispatch one.
The opening goal came after just 10 minutes, when a shanked clearance from Marcos Rojo allowed the Hammers' silky playmaker Manuel Lanzini to pull the ball back for Diafra Sakho. His shot on the turn took a deflection off Daley Blind, and nestled inside David de Gea's post.
The hosts certainly seemed encouraged by the electric atmosphere, and, as clichéd as it may seem, they really did seem to just want it more. Andy Carroll should've added a second when sent clean through after 20 minutes, shortly before Dimitri Payet uncharacteristically fluffed his lines from the edge of the area. At the other end, Anthony Martial and Rashford were feeding off scraps.
However, that soon changed in the second half, with United drawing level within a few minutes of the restart. A simple long ball found its way to Juan Mata via a touch from Rashford; a simple square ball and a Martial tap-in later, and United were back in the game.
Goals often change games, but on this occasion, it unfortunately didn't. West Ham's inelegant but undeniably efficacious football continued to cause United's porous defence problems, and Sakho soon squandered a wonderful opportunity at a brace from point-blank range.
But the longer United hung on, the greater the chance they had of snatching a leading on the counter-attack. With just over 15 minutes remaining, the moment came. Rashford sent Martial surging down the right, with the Frenchman cutting inside before squeezing the ball inside Darren Randolph's near post. The keeper shouldn't have let the chance in, but the travelling supporters certainly didn't mind.
Alas, their party lasted only a couple of minutes, with the Hammers soon drawing level. A Payet cross found a free Michail Antonio in the United box, with his powerful header arrowing into the top of de Gea's goal.
It was all West Ham again, and with just 10 minutes to go, the Hammers were back in front. Once again it was poor defending from United, and poor defending from Blind, with Winston Reid escaping his Dutch marker to convert a venomous Payet free-kick. Hammers boss Slaven Bilić subsequently tightened things up, and his side hung on for the victory. With such a watertight back line, and so few chances created, United could hardly complain.