Pogba double from the spot gets United out of jail in controversy laden game
Paul Pogba gave Manchester United the three points for the home side on an afternoon where the home side were fortunate to win. That said, the three points were vital as they are now just two points off a top four spot. The first penalty did not seem to be a foul and possibly outside the box, West Ham had a legal goal disallowed at 0-0 and the hosts' performance was well below par. Pellegrini's side played excellently and they will feel disappointed to lose.
It was a very even start to the match and it took just two minutes for Masuaku to shoot wide of De Gea's goal. Man Utd then responded by forcing a corner and then Fred hit a powerful strike from the edge of the box which got blocked. In the 10th minute, West Ham thought they had taken the lead. Masuaku delivered a ball into the box, it was headed by Mark Noble to Felipe Anderson who hit home. The linesman raised his flag, but Diogo Dalot on the opposite side of the pitch for the assistant was playing him on. It was very, very tight, but he was in line.
Lukaku started brightly for Manchester United with some nice runs, but his crosses were not the best. In the 16th minute, the Belgian found Lingard who put in a dangerous ball across the face of goal. It was obvious this game was not going to finish 0-0. One minute later, the deadlock was broken. Martial had the ball in the box, who passed to Juan Mata on the edge of it and there was a coming together between him and Robert Snodgrass. The Spaniard went down and referee Graham Scott pointed to the spot. It did not look like a foul and it may well have been outside the area.
Paul Pogba was not fussed though and he beat Fabianski with a penalty which went straight down the middle. Snodgrass and Pellegrini were pointing towards the ground just outside the 18 yard box, but their complaints fell on deaf ears. The second controversial decision of the game and both against the visitors. To their credit, they quickly put it behind them and they continued to threaten from corners. Anderson and Balbuena somehow did not get on the end of one corner and Anderson headed across goal rather than into it from another.
Lukaku continued to find joy down West Ham's right. He found Dalot whose shot was poor though. The game constantly swung one way and then the other. Masuaku looked for an equaliser after linking up with Noble, but they could not find a teammate.
There was a moment of tension seven minutes before the break when Ogbonna cleanly dispossessed Lingard and the United man went to ground. It did not look like Lingard was trying to win a penalty, but Ogbonna pointed his finger at him and actually put it in his face. The referee had to stepp in to calm everyone down. Fred fired miles over from 25 yards out and Smalling headed over two minutes later, but it was the Hammers who had a great opportunity to make it 1-1 just before half-time.
Anderson, West Ham's stand out on Monday night at Chelsea, ran from the far side and into the box before trying to beat De Gea. The Spaniard stuck his foot out to clear away. That was half-time and even though there had only been one shot on target for each team, it was an exciting first period.
After the interval, West Ham came out firing. Chicharito threatened the United defence on one occasion and four minutes after the break, Anderson equalised. De Gea quickly threw out the ball, he could only toss it straight to an opponent. Noble started the move and after a couple of passes, the move ended with a cross by Lanzini to Anderson at the far post who slid in to put West Ham on level terms. That was not all. They had another straight afterwards and Zabaleta tried his luck by shooting at De Gea. The storm was only halted when Marcus Rashford was introduced in the 55th minute.
Man U had just 38% possession in the first 15 minutes of the second half, but Rashford sparked them into life. He made a darting run into the box in the 59th minute which forced Fabianski into a great save. Three minutes later, he headed over the bar from an offside position which was not spotted by the officials and West Ham, all of a sudden, were suffering. Marcus Rojo also tested the away goalie after a couple of poor crosses by Lukaku which were blocked and then, out of the blue, West Ham took over.
Declan Rice had an effort blocked 20 minutes from time and then Diangana forced a corner out of Lingard. That first corner was cleared for a second one, but United looked vulnerable at set pieces all afternoon. From the subsequent one, Phil Jones had to throw himself at the ball otherwise it would have been 1-2. Chicharito went off shaking his head after 72 minutes, but his substitute, Mikhail Antonio, was a headache for the United defence.
Four minutes after his introduction, his thunderous strike cannoned off the crossbar and De Gea had to prevent Anderson from scoring on the rebound. Two minutes later, Diangana got on the end of a cross at the far post and his header into the ground looked to be going in, but De Gea batted it away. Straight after that against the run of play in the 78th minute, United hit the front.
Man U countered, Rashford beautifully flicked on a psss for Martial, who ran towards goal before being fouled by Fredericks. It was a clear foul. There was a question mark over Martial's position, but he looked to be just onside. Pogba went to Fabianski's right this time and although the goalie guessed right, it was too much in the corner. It was a cruel blow on the Hammers. Diangana and Antonio got in each other's way to make it 2-2 and that was pretty much their only other chance. The last play of the game was cleared by the United defence and United undeservedly claimed three vital points.