Manchester United recorded a 1-0 win over West Ham United at Old Trafford on Sunday, as Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s side reclaimed second place in the Premier League table. United were on top for much of the match, but relied on a Craig Dawson own goal early in the second half to come away with the points.
The first half was a simple affair: United attacked and West Ham defended. The visitors sat deep and soaked up pressure, with lone striker Michail Antonio cutting an isolated figure up top. However, as might have been expected, it was a display of impressive organisation from David Moyes’ charges, who successfully restricted their hosts’ goalscoring opportunities.
It took until midway through the opening half for United to carve out a good goalscoring chance. It came when Mason Greenwood peeled out to the right flank and floated a peach of a cross into the box for Marcus Rashford. He’d managed to drift into space behind defender Issa Diop, but got underneath the cross, and couldn’t make a clean contact.
It was a brilliant performance from Greenwood, whose movement twisted and turned West Ham’s defence out of shape. On the half hour, he brought down a difficult Luke Shaw pass on the left side of the penalty area, and in the blink of an eye spun away from Declan Rice and fizzed a cross into the six yard box. Hammers keeper Łukasz Fabiański parried the ball away from goal, but not without some difficulty.
With just over five minutes to go to halftime, Greenwood created a good chance of his own. Having received the ball from Bruno Fernandes, he drove towards goal and, under pressure from a Hammers defender, fired a brilliant low shot towards the far post from outside the area. Only a superb save from Fabiański prevented United from taking the lead, and ensured the visitors maintained on level terms at the interval.
However, less than 10 minutes into the second half, United’s pressure finally told. Bruno Fernandes teased a corner towards Fabiański’s near post, where Scott McTominay leapt like a salmon but failed to make contact. Instead, he screened the ball from defender Craig Dawson, who unknowingly headed past his own goalkeeper to give United the lead. McTominay wheeled away in celebration, but there could be no doubt it was an own goal.
With United having looked comfortable for most of the second half, roles were reversed in the final 15 minutes. United sat deep and invited pressure from their visitors, hoping to kill the game off on the counter-attack. Greenwood went agonisingly close to a deserved goal with just over 10 minutes left, rifling a low shot against the post after slipping inside off the left flank. Dan James did a good job of stretching the Hammers’ defence, but his final ball was often lacking.
Nevertheless, thanks to some last-ditch defending at the other end, United held on for a narrow win. It means United stay second in the Premier League table with just nine matchdays left in the season. They’re still just a single point clear of third-placed Leicester City, but have extended their buffer over fourth-placed Chelsea to six points.