Manchester United – West Ham: The Red Devils rode an own goal to a 1-0 victory and three points at Old Trafford, as they continue to battle Leicester City for 2nd place in the Premier League.
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The victory moves Manchester United a point above Leicester, where they began the weekend, still 14 behind runaway leaders and champions-elect Manchester City.
West Ham, on the other hand, remain 5th in the Premier League after missing an opportunity to pull level on points with 4th-place Chelsea, who dropped points this weekend.
3 things we learned: Manchester United – West Ham
1. Manchester United doing just (barely) enough: It’s clear for all to see that Man United are a thoroughly solid, if unspectacular, side lacking the kind of transcendent player (or two) required to reach the heights they wish to realize. Bruno Fernandes has been fantastic, but too often he too becomes a passenger (Sunday being but the latest example), at which point Manchester United could be any highly functional, but limited, middling-to-upper-tier Premier League side — say, West Ham, for example. The summer transfer window cannot come quickly enough for Manchester United, nor anyone who intends to watch them play next season.
2. Hammers hardly turned up: For the entirety of Sunday’s game, there were only two likely outcomes: 1) Manchester United eventually score and win going away, or 2) Manchester United, somehow, fail to score and the game ends 0-0. West Ham didn’t register their first shot of the game until the 56th minute, at which point Manchester United had already scored and the game was over. By contrast, Manchester United had taken 11 (mostly poor) shots by that time.
3. Top-four fading away for West Ham: While they likely weren’t expected to beat Manchester United on Sunday, a positive result would have sent a crystal clear message to Chelsea: you’re in for a real battle over the final 10 games of the season. Instead, West Ham failed to capitalize on the Blues’ “disappointing” draw with Leeds and fell another point behind. At some point, West Ham will have to beat some of the “big boys” to become one of them, and they’ve lost two of their last three games now — against Manchester City and Manchester United.
In a first half of very few quality scoring chances for either side, Marcus Rashford had one he’ll be wanting back in the worst way tonight. Mason Greenwood floated a wonderful cross to the back post where rose above his defender in the 25th minute, but Rashford didn’t make nearly enough contact with the free header and failed to put it anywhere near the target.
12 minutes later, it was Greenwood who had the chance to opening the scoring, only Lukasz Fabianski pulled off a top-drawer save to deny the 19-year-old. Greenwood weaved his way through the West Ham defense to open up an alley for a left-footed finish low and to the far post — and he placed it perfectly — but Fabianski went full-stretch to get his fingertips to it.
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The deadlock was broken in the most fitting of ways in the 53rd minute, as Scott McTominay headed the ball off Craig Dawson for an unfortunate own goal against the West Ham defender. The better scoring chance came seconds earlier, when Greenwood played another dangerous ball across the face of goal and Vladimir Coufal had to frantically sweep it away with Rashford racing onto the scene.
Fabianski was forced into important action against in the 61st minute. Bruno Fernandes unleashed a powerful, low shot to the Polish ‘keeper’s right-hand side, but again Fabianski was quick to get down and paw the ball away.