There was late drama as Manchester United snatched a 2-1 win away at West Ham United in Sunday’s Premier League encounter. Cristiano Ronaldo cancelled out a fortuitous Hammers opener in the first half, before Jesse Lingard netted against his former club late in the second. West Ham might have salvaged a point with a last-gasp penalty kick, but for a fine David de Gea save.
The game got off to a slow start, with United dominating possession but failing to trouble a well-organised West Ham defence. It took until the quarter-hour before either side created a chance, and when one arrived, it was more the result of defensive error than attacking ingenuity. Saïd Benrahma caught Harry Maguire (who else?) dithering deep in his own half and quickly offloaded to Jarrod Bowen, though the striker’s shot was blocked at the near post by Raphaël Varane.
United’s first real chance didn’t arrive until just short of the half-hour, when a corner was flicked out to Bruno Fernandes, lurking deep in the West Ham box. He drove a powerful low shot towards the far post, but Łukasz Fabiański got down to make a superb save, tipping the ball onto the woodwork to keep the game goalless.
It proved an especially important moment in the match, as within a couple of minutes, the Hammers went ahead. From out on the right, Bowen rolled the ball across to Benrahma, lurking on the edge of the United penalty area. His shot took a massive deflection off the unfortunate Varane, who diverted the ball past a wrong-footed David de Gea, and into the back of the net.
From there, the first half was set alight. United should’ve equalised within three minutes, when a defence-splitting Scott McTominay pass sent Ronaldo clean through. He could’ve squared to gift Mason Greenwood a tap-in, but instead went alone, only to be denied by Fabiański.
Happily, the Portuguese forward made amends just seconds later, when he flicked a deep Bruno Fernandes cross goalwards, and prodded home after it was spilled back into his path by the Hammers keeper. It was a classic Ronaldo goal, and one that bailed United out after an underwhelming first half performance. United again seemed to lack an attacking gameplan, with their forwards relying on individual skill and pure striker’s instinct to find a breakthrough.
A cheap giveaway by Hammers midfielder Pablo Fornals almost gifted Ronaldo a second moments after the restart, though Fabiański was quick off his line, and got down to make a fine save. With the exception of this early scare, however, the second half was a dull affair, and the game ticked into its final 20 minutes before Solskjær shook things up. Mason Greenwood and Paul Pogba were withdrawn, with Jadon Sancho and erstwhile West Ham loanee Jesse Lingard introduced in their place.
Just as the match seemed to be petering out into a disappointing 1-1 draw, the mercurial Lingard delivered the goods. He worked some space inside the Hammers box, cutting inside onto his right foot and stabbing the ball into Fabiański’s top corner. It was a superb goal, though Lingard refused to celebrate against his former club.
It seemed United had the points in the bag, but there was still drama to come. In stoppage time at the end of the second half, Luke Shaw was adjudged to have committed a handball when his outstretched arm inadvertently blocked an Andriy Yarmolenko cross. After a quick VAR review, referee Martin Atkinson pointed to the spot, and West Ham had an opportunity to snatch a point with the last kick of the game. Long-serving midfielder Mark Noble came off the bench to take the spot-kick, though de Gea continued his fine run of form, springing to his left to push the penalty away, and seal the points for United.