Following the defeat to Manchester City on Wednesday night, West Ham United were back home to face the other side of Manchester on Sunday and this time it was a totally different outcome, as they beat Manchester United 1-0.
David Moyes made four changes from the team that played at The Etihad Stadium, as Captain Declan Rice, Tomáš Souček and Nayef Aguerd all returned from illness, while Saïd Benrahma came into the starting line-up. Flynn Downes, Pablo Fornals and Emmerson Palmieri dropped to the bench. Vladimír Coufal was missing after picking up a hamstring injury against the Citizens, while the Hammers’ boss also named young goalkeeper Joseph Anang amongst the substitutes as extra cover.
Looking to make up for the 1-0 defeat at Brighton and Hove Albion just four days earlier, Erik ten Hag’s men started on the front foot here and went close on a number of occasions but thankfully for the hosts, neither Marcus Rashford, Bruno Fernandes, Antony, or Christian Eriksen could open the scoring.
The Irons then survived another scare when Rashford had home goalkeeper Łukasz Fabiański beaten, only for his effort to bounce back off the post.
The Hammers dealt with the early pressure well and then went in front after twenty seven minutes. Benrahma got the better of Luke Shaw and then evaded the attentions of Victor Lindelöf to shoot past David De Gea. However, the Algerian winger’s attempt rolled underneath the Spaniards’ body. Cue pandemonium!!!
There could have been a swift equaliser but fortunately, the post was once again the saviour for the Irons, when Antony tried his luck. Minutes later, Rashford was unable to put a header on target, as it wasn’t convincing enough to worry Fabiański.
Benrahma can really be a threat at times and he was certainly proving so here. He was looking for another goal but on this occasion, De Gea was alert to the danger and made the save.
West Ham thought they should have been awarded a penalty just before the break when Lindelöf’s arm appeared to make contact with the ball but neither referee Peter Bankes, nor VAR saw enough evidence to give a spot-kick.
After one minute was added at the end of the first-half, Bankes blew the whistle for the break. Although the home side were pleased to be in front, they were very much aware that there could well be a fightback from the Red Devils.
Moyes’ men started the second-half much like they had finished the opening period. De Gea got a hand to Souček’s volley, while Aguerd had two attempts. Firstly, his shot was blocked by Antony, before the defender looked to head into the net but instead, the ball went narrowly wide.
Long throws have proved to be an effective weapon for the hosts in recent weeks and another led to a second goal here. The ball was put back into play and was then flicked on by Souček for Michail Antonio to put past De Gea. However, it was immediately ruled out by Bankes for a foul on the visiting goalkeeper.
To their credit, the spirited Irons kept going and created a number of decent opportunities. Rice linked up well with Benrahma before sending the ball into an inviting area but unfortunately for the skipper, none of his teammates were able to get on the end of it.
Lucas Paquetá has been scoring for fun in recent weeks and he once again tried to add his name to the scoresheet but was unfortunately off target with his latest effort.
The Brazilian midfielder set up the next chance for his team when he did brilliantly to reach Angelo Ogbonna’s pass and play in Souček but he unfortunately steered the ball into the side netting.
The Hammers were enjoying their football by this point and a great team move involving Benrahma, Paquetá and Rice resulted in them having a second goal disallowed when Souček beat De Gea but he was in an offside position.
The visitors were on the verge of losing back-to-back games but went in search of an equaliser. Rashford had the opportunity but Fabiański thwarted him.
The game was held up after a head injury to Souček but thankfully, after a lengthy break in play, the Czech international was able to participate in the last few minutes.
Moyes made his first change on eighty seven minutes, as Fornals replaced Benrahma.
Seconds later, the Red Devils’ boss decided to shuffle his pack and made a double change. He took off both Tyrell Malacia and Aaron Wan-Bissaka to throw on Diogo Dalot and Fred in their places.
During the eight extra minutes of stoppage time were signalled at the end of the ninety, the home side then saw both Ben Johnson and Flynn Downes enter the fray for Antonio and Paquetá, while a final change was made in the last knockings of the encounter with Palmieri coming on for Aaron Cresswell.
The atmosphere in East London was terrific throughout the game and it continued when Bankes brought an end to the action.
With a difficult eleven days now behind them, the Irons needed that win ahead of another big night here on Thursday when they play the first-leg of their UEFA Europa Conference League semi-final tie against Dutch outfit AZ Alkmaar.