West Ham V Manchester United

Post Match Comments
Audio Match ReportSaturday 26th August 2000
Upton Park

A MAGNIFICENT comeback earned the Hammers their first point of the campaign in a dramatic finale at Upton Park against defending champions, Manchester United.

Two goals in the last five minutes from Paolo Di Canio and Davor Suker snatched a last-gasp draw in a pulsating encounter.

Earlier, David Beckham and Andy Cole had put the visitors in pole position until the Hammers' strike pairing pulled a point out of the fire.

The Hammers dominated the opening period, and could easily have put the game beyond the reach of the Sir Alex Ferguson's troops.

 As early as the first minute, Italian maestro, Paolo Di Canio, called Frenchman, Fabien Barthez, into action, but his shot was comfortably saved.

But the hosts suffered an early setback when Beckham produced a devilish strike to hand his side the lead.

Joe Cole felled Teddy Sheringham on the edge of the box and Beckham stepped up to curl a trademark free-kick into the top corner of the net.

That goal jolted the Hammers, and they took their time to recover until the halfway point in the first half when they took the game by the scruff of the neck.

Di Canio's cross was only half cleared by the visiting defence and Carrick pounced to unleash a searing drive which was smartly saved by Barthez.

Croatian striker, Davor Suker, at that point still searching for his first goal in a claret-and-blue shirt saw one shot deflected by Roy Keane, and then he headed Winterburn's pinpoint centre wide when unmarked.

West Ham continued to pour forward with Carrick testing Barthez again from distance, and then Di Canio lobbed narrowly wide with the Frenchman stranded.

The mercurial Di Canio was constantly in the thick of the action and after twisting and teasing his way into the penalty area, he delivered an accurate cross which Joe Cole headed wide of the target.

It was all one-way traffic and Steve Lomas watched his fierce right foot volley tipped over the crossbar by the busy Barthez.

The half-time interval provided some respite for the Red Devils, but the Hammers were in no mood to relinquish their grasp on the game as Stimac nodded Di Canio's corner just wide.

But the Hammers were caught with a sucker punch, as from the resulting goal kick, Man United stunned their hosts with a rapid counter-attack.

Ryan Giggs burst towards the edge of the box and teed up Andy Cole who had the simple task of extending his side's advantage.

The second goal seemed to knock the stuffing out of the Hammers, and they struggled to gain a foothold back in the contest.

Di Canio continued prompting the West Ham attack, while Joe Cole was not far away with a right-footed effort.

In spite of their best efforts, though, the home side could not sustain the momentum they had built up in the opening period, with Man United content to keep possession.

Loan signing, Christian Bassilla, was handed his debut as he replaced Rio Ferdinand midway through the second half, while Suker was booked for a challenge on Paul Scholes.

The match seemed to be ebbing away from the Hammers when Joe Cole's mesmerising run concluded with a foul from Henning Berg which gave referee, Dermot Gallagher, no option but to point at the spot.

From 12 yards out, Di Canio made no mistake and he set up a frantic final five minutes.

Harry Redknapp threw on reinforcements in the shape of Paul Kitson, and with a minute left on the clock, the Hammers reaped their just reward.

Again it was Di Canio who was involved as the Italian dragged the ball back into the box, and in the ensuing scramble, Suker pounced to notch his first Hammers' goal.

In the dying moments the visitors could even have taken all three points back to Manchester as Beckham twice rattled the woodwork in injury-time, but the Hammers clung on for a precious point.

They say the League table doesn't lie, but after this performance against the champions, West Ham are anything but a bottom of the table side.