Unlucky West Ham go down to two Manchester United penalties
PUBLISHED: 19:35 13 April 2019 | UPDATED: 19:35 13 April 2019
PA Wire/PA Images
The Hammers are beaten in controversial circumstances at Old Trafford
Manchester United 2 West Ham United 1
Forget the Theatre of Dreams, Old Trafford was turned into the stage of controversy as the hard-working, heartbroken Hammers were forced to leave the Red half of Manchester with absolutely nothing but pride in their performance.
After Felipe Anderson had an early volley wrongly-ruled out for offside, Paul Pogba gave United an interval lead with a penalty award that will be debated long into the night.
And, although Anderson then ended a ten-match scoring drought to level with his tenth goal of the season just after the break, Pogba sent Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side climbing into fifth-spot, when his 80th-minute penalty secured victory over a West Ham team that certainly deserved something from this enthralling contest.
Following their defeat at Chelsea on Monday night, the Hammers made a trio of changes for this trip to Old Trafford, where they have now failed to win in their last 11 visits. Robert Snodgrass, Pablo Zabaleta and Arthur Masuaku came in for an absent Marko Arnautović (ill) and Aaron Cresswell (knee) plus substitute Ryan Fredericks.
Backed by the vociferous travelling support, it was the recalled Masuaku, who let fly with the first effort of the evening but his 20-yarder looped harmlessly into the home fans packed behind David De Gea’s goal.
Returning to the place he used to call home, lone-striker Javier Hernández then came agonisingly close to releasing Anderson as West Ham fearlessly set about taking the game to United’s reshuffled side.
Indeed, kicking off in sixth-spot – five places and 19 points above Pellegrini’s side – the Reds had made five switches to the starting line-up that had lost by a single goal to Barcelona in their Champions League, first-leg tie on Wednesday evening.
After losing four of his last five games – and with one eye Tuesday night’s return at Lionel Messi’s Camp Nou - Solskjaer brought in Marcus Rojo, Phil Jones, Anthony Martial, Juan Mata and Jesse Lingard to replace the suspended duo of Ashley Young and Luke Shaw plus substitutes Marcus Rashford, Victor Lindelof and Scott McTominay.
On ten minutes, Hernández did manage to find Anderson with a deft header and the Brazilian sent an acrobatic eight-yarder past De Gea but South American joy quickly turned to despair, when the effort was incorrectly ruled out by a flag against Hammers record signing, who was being marginally played onside by Diogo Dalot.
Then, on 17 minutes, there was yet more agony for West Ham, who having barely been troubled, conceded a penalty, when Snodgrass senselessly sliced Mata on or around the 18-yard line.
That left Pogba to break the deadlock with an unstoppable spot-kick down the middle as Lukasz Fabianski headed left and the culprit continued to protest that his offence had been committed a whisker outside the area.
The unpunished Pogba added yet more salt to the Snodgrass wounds, when he caught him with head-high tackle but Manuel Lanzini’s consequent, 20-yard free-kick ricocheted off the United wall and, shortly afterwards, the Scotsman saw Anderson glance his inswinging corner agonisingly across the face of goal and beyond the far post.
Ten minutes before the break, Mata was booked for scything through skipper Mark Noble, while Lingard and Angelo Ogbonna earned a dressing down from referee Graham Scott following an angry head-to-head.
Just before the interval, Anderson slashed behind before then forcing De Gea to block his low, angled drive with his feet as the Hammers departed at half-time down but not disheartened by their opening 45-minute showing that had seen that Anderson ‘opener’ ruled out and that hairline penalty decision given at the other end.
While despairing of the referee, Pellegrini could not have had much to moan about in the away dressing room at the break and, within four minutes of the restart, the Chilean’s mood lightened considerably, when the Hammers deservedly levelled.
Pouncing onto De Gea’s sloppy throw-out, the alert Declan Rice fed Snodgrass, who patiently played in the overlapping Lanzini and when the Argentinian ace sent over a deep, low left-wing cross, Anderson slid home past the red-faced Spanish ‘keeper at the far post.
Having got one, the Hammers went in search of two but Snodgrass ran out of road at the vital moment, while Pablo Zabaleta, of all people, let fly with a low 25-yarder that De Gea held, before Rashford stepped from the bench to replace Mata.
Within moments of his arrival, the England striker’s tightly-angled shot sent Fabianski into a low save and, after Lanzini hobbled away to be replaced by Grady Diangana, Romelu Lukaku nodded over the top as United, getting into gear, finally started to release the handbrake, with Marcos Rojo also going close.
Michail Antonio then replaced Hernández, who departed to applause from both sets of fans in the 74,478 crowd before Mason Greenwood and Andreas Pereira came on for Lukaku and Rojo and, in the final switch of the afternoon, ex-Manchester City defender Zabaleta received a less generous ovation from the home support as he swapped places with Fredericks.
Antonio wasted no time in getting into his stride with a barnstorming run that climaxed with an 18-yarder that rocked De Gea’s left-hand angle and the United ‘keeper was a relieved man when he then thwarted Anderson’s low follow-up.
Shortly afterwards, Antonio also forced De Gea to parry his point-blank header into the Manchester sky but with the Hammers pressing hard to get their noses in front they unwittingly left too much space at the back.
And with ten minutes remaining, the newly-arrived Fredericks hauled down the breaking Martial at the cost of both a penalty kick and a booking, leaving Pogba to blast his second spot-kick of the afternoon – and his 16th goal of the season - past the flying Fabianski’s outstretched right-hand glove to leave the frustrated and heartbroken Hammers still looking for their first away win of 2019.
RED DEVILS: De Gea, Dalot, Rojo (Pereira 75), Smalling, Jones, Pogba, Mata (Rashford 55), Fred, Lingard, Martial, Lukaku (Greenwood 75). Unused subs: Romero, Lindelof, Darmian, McTominay
HAMMERS: Fabianski, Zabaleta (Fredericks 75), Masuaku, Balbuena, Rice, Noble, Lanzini (Diangana 62), Snodgrass, Anderson, Hernández (Antonio 72). Unused subs: Adrián, Obiang, Diop, Holland.
Booked: Mata (34), Fredericks (79)
Referee: Graham Scott