United came into this game knowing they had a chance to put daylight between themselves and the other Champions League contenders after the weekends results. It was clear that West Ham’s game plan was to sit deep and frustrate United and that’s exactly what they did.
The away side were organized and looked comfortable in their defensive shape and you could see United were going to have to be patient. It took until the 25th minute for the home side to have a sight of goal. Rashford met a Greenwood cross but he got his header all wrong. When he sees it again he will feel he should of done better. It was clear West Ham were going to try and catch United on the break. But each time they tried to find there out ball in Antonio, Maguire and Lindelof were touch tight and the Jamaican couldn’t get in the game.
The pressure was building from United and as we approached half time Mason Greenwood brought a fine save out of Lukasz Fabianski. The West Ham keeper had done well to tip his left foot strike on to the post and out for a corner. Half time arrived and with the game goalless West Ham would of been the happier of the two sides. United needed to step it up in the second half.
The second half started much like the first with United seeing plenty of the ball but this time they found a breakthrough. A Fernandes corner was met by McTominay and his header went in via Craig Dawson. The West Ham defender has been a real threat from set pieces but this time he’d scored at the wrong end. Fabianski was helpless he could do nothing to prevent it going in.
Now United were ahead West Ham had to come out and that would leave plenty of space for United to exploit. The pace of James, Rashford and Greenwood is enough to cause any team in the world problems. Moments after going ahead United nearly double their lead. Fernandes tried his luck from the edge of the area and Fabianski was at full stretch to deny him. Brilliant save, West Ham were still in the game.
West Ham were now being more adventurous but they couldn’t find a way past a well organized United back line. Bowen was getting no change out of the excellent Luke Shaw and Soucek had also been kept quiet. While it was 1-0 the away side were still in the game and United had been here before.
Greenwood had looked lively all game and with just over 13 minutes remaining his left foot strike crashed off the post! Fabianski was well beaten but the woodwork had came to his rescue. No sooner had West Ham nearly gone 2 behind they had a great chance to level at the other end. Soucek managed to find some rare space in the United box and if it wasn’t for Shaw’s dramatic block it surely would of been 1-1. Superb defending!
West Ham were running out of time and with 3 minutes of the 90 remaining, Antonio’s cross was gathered by Dean Henderson. It was a waste from the West Ham man, it was far to close to the United keeper. The Hammers came forward in search of the equalizer they so desperately craved but United were keeping the door firmly shut. Maguire and Lindelof had been excellent against the robust Antonio and the aerial threat from Rice and Soucek.
The final whistle went and United had picked up a very valuable 3 points. After going a goal up they’d managed the game perfectly and in truth had never looked in trouble. The gap from United in 2nd to West Ham in 5th is now 9 points. Barring a dramatic collapse it’s almost certain that United will be playing Champions League Football again next season.
Man of the Match: Luke Shaw