A Toni Martinez hat-trick helped West Ham United’s U23s seal an emphatic 4-2 victory over Manchester United on Sunday afternoon.
The Hammers youngsters hosted the Red Devils in their first London Stadium fixture of the season and despite going behind twice, went on to secure all three points thanks to the Spanish striker’s three goals and Joe Powell’s first of the season.
Prolific frontman Martinez now has eight goals in ten U23 appearances this season and deservedly took home the match ball after a stunning display in front of 1,483 supporters.
The clash began in the worst possible fashion for the hosts, however. Ricky Sbragia’s men instantly got on the front foot and took the lead just two minutes in when Demetri Mitchell scored from Indy Boonen’s through ball.
Terry Westley’s men took control of possession soon after, but it was the visitors who were looking more dangerous, as DJ Buffonge’s free-kick tested Nathan Trott in the Hammers’ goal.
West Ham responded brilliantly, however to the United pressure and after 26 minutes, they were level.
Powell, taking the ball from Sam Byram on the right hand side, swung in an inviting delivery, and after Manchester United were unable to clear, poacher Martinez pounced and smashed through the keeper’s legs.
Now looking in the ascendancy, it came as a surprise when the Hammers were pegged back eleven minutes later. Mitchell was again the scorer, following in James Wilson’s long shot which was fumbled by Trott and tapped home by the winger.
Unjust, it would have been, for the Hammers to go in at half time behind, and Martinez made sure that would not be happening.
This time it was Nathan Holland – superb all afternoon – who was the architect. The winger, drifting inside and out of United full-back Joe Riley, eventually found space to curl in a beautiful delivery which West Ham’s star striker was able to power in with his head.
And within two minutes of the restart, predictably, Martinez had his third. Edimilson Fernandes, making his first U23 start of the campaign after regaining his fitness, left Luke Shaw on the United left for dead, getting to the byline and crossing into the six-yard-box.
Martinez – in the right place at the right time – crashed home the header to give the Hammers the lead for the first time.
Though Sbragia’s team were the side looking to get back in the game, it was West Ham who looked more likely to score again.
And with 25 minutes remaining, they did just that. Fernandes, stepping it up a gear as Manchester United began to tire, stretched the visitors’ defence and charged towards the box, laying it on a plate for Powell to sidefoot home and complete the scoring.
Trott was beaten a minute later but Tosin Kehinde’s long-range effort smashed the crossbar, and later Dan Kemp was seemingly pushed over inside the box, however referee Sam Purkiss saw nothing wrong with the coming together.
The Hammers, though, were able to comfortably see out the remainder of the game and pick up their second Premier League 2 win in a row – their fourth in total this season – to make sure it was an afternoon to celebrate at London Stadium.
West Ham United: Trott, Byram (Johnson 76), Rice, Pask, Neufville, Coventry, Powell, Kemp, Fernandes (Scully 83), Holland, Martinez (Hector-Ingram 72).
Subs not used: Matrevics, Rosa.
Goals: Martinez 26, 45+2, 47, Powell 64
Bookings: Powell 34
Manchester United: O'Hara, Riley, Shaw, Warren, Scott (Hamilton 49), Whelan, Boonen (Williams 68), Kehinde, Wilson (Bouhi 49), Buffonge, Mitchell.
Subs not used: Richardson, Sang.
Goals: Mitchell 2, 37