Manchester Utd 0
West Ham Utd 1
David Moyes must have feared there was going to be a late sting in the tail for the second time in four days against Manchester United.
The West Ham United manager had watched his side spurn four excellent chances to put this extraordinary game to bed in the closing minutes and memories from Sunday were surely racing through his mind.
Yet Manchester United were unable to summon another grandstand finish and with that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s hopes of ending the club’s four-year trophy drought will now rest on how they fare in the Premier League, Europe and FA Cup. It was Moyes’s first win at Old Trafford as an opposition manager.
There were so many chances missed at both ends it was hard to understand how the match finished with a solitary goal from Manuel Lanzini, but that had plenty to do with Alphonse Areola and Dean Henderson, who made saves from Mark Noble and Jarrod Bowen late on in between Andriy Yarmolenko hitting a post and Pablo Fornals blazing over.
Noble’s name was cheered before kick-off by the Manchester United fans, but it was not long before they were cursing him and doubtless wondering what their team have to do to earn a penalty against West Ham. Cristiano Ronaldo, rested here, was denied what Solskjaer felt were two “stonewall” penalties in the 2-1 win on Sunday before Noble missed a stoppage-time spot kick he was brought on specifically to take that would have rescued a point.
And when Noble stuck out a hand and deliberately pulled the back of the outstanding Jesse Lingard’s shirt in the 11th minute, it again looked a pretty clear-cut decision for the referee to make. Yet Jonathan Moss ruled there had been no infringement and, with no Var to call upon, there was no opportunity to correct his misjudgment. Alex Telles was one of six players from each side making their first start of the campaign and it showed in those early stages, not least when Ryan Fredericks sized him up and then darted in between the United left-back and Jadon Sancho before pulling the ball back at the byline for Manuel Lanzini to side-foot into the corner.
It was a fine run and assist from Fredericks, but he injured himself in the process and had to be substituted.
In the 16th minute, Anthony Martial poked wide with just Areola to beat after a mazy dribble and pass from Nemanja Matic. Before then, Juan Mata hit the crossbar and soon after Lingard forced an excellent diving save from Areola from range.
The frenetic pace only intensified after the interval with both sides going hammer and tongs at each other. Substitute Mason Greenwood plucked a Donny van de Beek pass out of the air with almost his first touch, but Areola was out quick to save his shot. Diogo Dalot, offering so much more going forward from right-back than Aaron Wan-Bissaka, then fired just wide.
West Ham should have killed the game late on, but a succession of misses kept United’s hopes alive. The breakthrough, though, would not come. (© Telegraph Media Group Limited 2021)
Telegraph Media Group Limited