Manchester United recorded their sixth consecutive Premier League victory on Monday, seeing off West Ham United 2-0 at the London Stadium. The visitors found themselves a man up early in the first half after Sofiane Feghouli’s harsh red card, though it took them until midway through the second before they broke the deadlock.
West Ham saw the lion’s share of possession in the first few minutes, and drew the first save when Manuel Lanzini’s low shot from the edge was tipped away by David de Gea after 10 minutes.
However, Slaven Bilić’s side were forced into a rethink after a quarter of an hour, when Sofiane Feghouli was bizarrely sent off for a coming together with Phil Jones. The Algerian attacker’s slide was clumsy, but no more so than his opposite number’s, and West Ham’s protests were as understandable as they were unheeded. The Hammers were forced to retreat into a defensive formation, and succeeded in frustrating United’s attack.
From then it was a tale of ponderousness on the pitch and irritation among the travelling support; United saw plenty of the ball, but didn’t move it quickly enough to cause sufficient trouble for the West Ham defence. The visitors’ only clear-cut chance of the half came from a Henrikh Mkhitaryan cross inside the final 10 minutes, though Antonio Valencia was denied by Darren Randolph before Jesse Lingard thumped the rebound against the post.
Only de Gea kept the scores level at the interval, with the Spaniard called into action a second time by the lively Lanzini on the stroke of halftime. The Argentine’s curling effort was clawed to safety by the sprawling Spaniard, while José Mourinho was presumably preparing a furious team talk in the dressing room.
Things didn’t start much better than they’d finished, with the Hammers going close to scoring yet again within six minutes of the restart. A Dimitri Payet free-kick from the right was met in the area by Michail Antonio, though the England attacker’s header drifted wide of United’s far post.
Antonio was presented with an even better opportunity on the hour, when a fine through-ball by Lanzini sent him clean through on goal. However, de Gea was once again equal to his opponent, and denied him in the one-on-one.
It proved a crucial save, with United breaking the deadlock just a couple of minutes later. A perfect low cross from the left by Marcus Rashford was converted by his fellow substitute Juan Mata, with United having ridden their luck to edge their way in front.
West Ham were forced onto the front foot, creating space for United on the counter. Paul Pogba went close with a couple of snapshots before the visitors finally killed the game with just over 10 minutes remaining. It took a stroke of luck, with the assistant referee failing to notice that Zlatan Ibrahimović was in an offside position as he lashed a deflected clearance past a rooted Randolph.
After half a season of bad luck, all of United’s breaks seem to be coming at once.