West Ham’s cup dreams crushed by Manchester United
22:15 30 November 2016
PA Wire/PA Images
The Hammers were beaten by a four-some display by United at Old Trafford
EFL Cup Quarter-Final
Manchester United 4 West Ham United 1
The Hammers crashed out of the EFL Cup at Old Trafford, where double-barrelled blasts from Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Anthony Martial sent Manchester United comfortably into the semi-finals.
Although former Red Devils starlet Ashley Fletcher had given Slaven Bilić’s boys a glimmer of hope with his first-ever goal for West Ham United to wipe out Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s quick-fire opener, that was about as good as it got for Slaven Bilić’s boys, who simply crumbled after the break.
Less than 74 hours after walking down the tunnel following Sunday afternoon’s 1-1 draw, these two sides were back doing it all again in the last eight of EFL Cup.
And just as Diafra Sakho had given the Hammers a second-minute lead in the Premier League on Sunday, then Ibrahimovic repeated the feat when the recalled Wayne Rooney’s incisive throughball picked out Henrikh Mkhitaryan, who back-heeled into the path of the Swedish international and he outmuscled Michail Antonio to clip past Adrian from 12 yards.
West Ham had made five changes from the side that had shared the spoils at the weekend as Fletcher, Adrián, Winston Reid, Edimilson Fernandes and Sofiane Feghouli came in for the injured Diafra Sakho (thigh) plus substitutes Darren Randolph, James Collins, Mark Noble and Manuel Lanzini.
But a goal down inside 95 seconds, the visitors were now firmly on the back foot in the bubbling cauldron of Old Trafford that had poignantly observed an impeccable minute’s silence in memory of the Chapecoense plane crash victims, before bursting into a cacophony of sound to acknowledge that early Ibrahimovic opener.
Having been sent to the stands for launching a water bottle down the Old Trafford touchline on Sunday, Jose Mourinho, who was serving a one-match ban from the dug-out, made five changes, too, as Martial, ex-Hammer Michael Carrick, Luke Shaw, Rooney and Mkhitaryan were each brought back into the fold.
And wherever he was watching from inside the stadium - £16,000 lighter as a result of the fine that accompanied that suspension - there could be no complaints from the Red Devils boss this time around, though, as Ibrahimovic then forced a double, point-blank parry out of Adrián before Martial found himself crowded out as he tried to turn home the loose ball.
Martial was then bundled over on the edge of the area by the consequently-cautioned Pedro Obiang and, when Rooney let fly with the attendant, angled free-kick, Adrián was again at his very best to claw the ball around his left-hand post.
There seemed to be no way out for wobbling West Ham and, when Feghouli did find himself galloping clear though the icy Manchester night, for reasons only known to himself, he ignored the supporting Fletcher and applied the handbrake only to be ambushed by the retreating United defence much to the dismay of Bilić and the vociferous visiting fans.
Back at the other end, Martial launched one high into his own supporters from range and then, as the half-hour approached, the United striker sent a jack-knife header across the face of goal before then wastefully side-footing to the alert, orange-shirted Adrián following another clinical break upfield by Mourinho’s men.
While the Hammers’ Spanish ‘keeper was working overtime, his compatriot David De Gea had been a freezing spectator but, on 35 minutes, he was picking the ball out of his net as West Ham conjured up an unlikely equaliser.
Collecting the ball in midfield, Obiang weaved past three opponents before spraying a superb crossfield ball out to Dimitri Payet on the left flank and the flying Frenchman cut inside, where he let fly with a low 18-yarder that De Gea found too hot to handle and e-Red Devil, Fletcher was on hand to stab the loose ball over the line from six yards.
“He’s one of our own,” was the cheeky chant from the celebrating Hammers fans and, not even the departure of the hobbling Aaron Cresswell - replaced by Arthur Makuasu - in the closing moments could spoil their joy at seeing the East Enders go in all-square at the break.
Within two minutes of the restart, however, West Ham found themselves trailing once more, when Antonio Valencia back-heeled to Mkhitaryan on the right-hand side of the area and the Armenian ace cut back to Martial, who gleefully fired into the top left-hand corner from 12 yards.
With substitute Danny Blind on for Luke Shaw and Rooney collecting a booking for felling Fernandes, United continued to press and Martial forced another reflex save out of Adrián, before the Spaniard got down to save from Ibrahimovic after his low 20-yard free-kick fizzed through the Hammers wall.
Lanzini replaced Antonio as the hour-mark approached but, on 62 minutes, the tie slipped out of East End clutches, when another slick United move created a second for Martial.
This time Ander Herrera combined with Ibrahimovic, whose perfect throughball found Valencia and when the Ecuadorian defender crossed low into the six-yard box, the unmarked Martial found himself with the simplest of tap-ins.
With Simone Zaza replacing Payet for the final quarter-of-an-hour, United continued to sweep forward and Rooney and Ibrahimovic could have added to the damage, while the Hammers’ Italian substitute merely succeeded in unleashing a wayward volley which skewed away for a throw-in while Feghouli was off target with a couple of efforts, too.
And in the third minute of stoppage-time, Ibrahimovic cemented a desperately disappointing night for everyone claret and blue when he drove home Herrera’s cross into the six-yard box.
RED DEVILS: De Gea, A. Valencia, Shaw (Blind h/t), Jones, Rojo, Carrick, Herrera, Rooney, Mkhitaryan (Rashford 89), Martial (Schweinsteiger 86), Ibrahimovic. Unused subs: Romero, Mata, Lingaard, Schneiderlin.
HAMMERS: Adrian, Reid, Ogbonna, Kouyate, Antonio (Lanzini 58), Cresswell (Masuaku 44), Obiang, Fernandes, Feghouli, Payet (Zaza 75) Fletcher. Unused subs: Randolph, Nordtveit, Noble, Collins.
Booked: Obiang (15)
Referee: Mike Jones