Manchester United continued their winning streak in London today against West Ham, to welcome the year 2017 on a high note, but with the team struggling once again to break the deadlock despite having the numerical advantage for most of the game, then eventually getting away with the precious 3 points.
United had to endure a couple of scares in the first half, as West Ham looked to cause some trouble, with Lanzini testing De Gea for the first time on the 10th minute, but the keeper tipped the ball out for a corner kick, and while it looked like the Hammers were going to surely punish the Red Devils, the complete opposite happened as Feghouli got harshly sent off for a rather wild challenge on Jones on the 15th minute, with the ref taking his decision very quickly, may be in live action he thought the tackle was really an injury-causing one, given the fact that Jones stayed on the ground for some minutes before getting back into play, and booed till the final whistle by the home support for his involvement in the sending off, although it has to be said he did not overact when fouled. Yet, despite being 1-man up, United could not muster a single shot on target until the 36th minute, whereby Mkhitaryan’s cross inside the box was met by Valencia, with a slight hint of offside in the process, but his shot was too straight at the keeper who managed to parry it out, and Lingard then somehow found the post on the rebound, and the ball ended up safely into the keeper’s hands. Zlatan then wasted a glorious opportunity by firing high into the stands, and United could have paid that miss dearly at the other end, as Lanzini once again had a very good attempt pushed behind by De Gea as the Hammers looked for a perfect hold-up to punish the Red Devils for such an uninspired first half, where they looked to be in between two minds, and lacked both pace and creativity to cause a 10-man West Ham team some serious problems.
Mourinho must have sensed these lacking thou, as he made his first change at the start of the second half by hauling off Darmian for Mata, and the little Spaniard added the touch that was lacking with his technique and ability to roam on the front line to make himself available to his teammates to keep the ball near the danger zone and to upset the defensive block of the opposition as well. Moreover, Rashford was also sent on minutes later for the fading Lingard, and with his pace, he was proving to be a handful on the left wing. However, United could have found themselves a goal down just after the hour mark, as Antonio was presented with a one-on-one situation with De Gea, but the keeper standing his ground and making a crucial save to keep the Red Devils in the game. The lucky escape seemed to fire on the Red Devils from there, and minutes later, they were in the lead. Rashford caused some chaos in West Ham’s defense before picking out Mata with a low pass, and the latter applied a cool one-touch finish to the far post to open the score. Zlatan and Rashford then combined as the game wore on, but the latter was unfortunate as the ball squirmed past the keeper, struck the post, and came back for the keeper to make a safe catch this time. However the Red Devils were in the clear on the 78th minute, as despite being offside, Zlatan whipped in a shot following Herrera’s pass, but the goal was allowed to stand , and United played keep-ball until the final whistle to start 2017 on a high.