Hammers suffer late heartbreak against Manchester United



West Ham United 1-2 Manchester United
Premier League

West Ham United’s unbeaten start to the 2021/22 season came to a dramatic end against Manchester United on Sunday afternoon.

Having led in the first half through Saïd Benrahma’s third goal of the season, the Hammers were then pegged back by Cristiano Ronaldo’s swift leveller.

As time ticked away in the second half, it looked as though 1-1 would be how the contest would conclude, until Jesse Lingard struck the winner in the 89th minute on his return to east London.

There could still have been a final twist in the tale, though, as West Ham were awarded a penalty in the final minute of added time, only for Mark Noble to suffer a rare miss from the spot.

With Michail Antonio absent due to the red card he picked up at Southampton a week ago, the Hammers were forced into a reshuffle up front, with Jarrod Bowen moving into a central position, closely supported by Benrahma.

Manchester United forced a couple of early corners, but it was the hosts who created the first opening of the afternoon when, with 17 minutes on the clock, Bowen and Benrahma hunted in tandem to dispossess Harry Maguire by his own corner flag. Benrahma cut the ball back to his strike partner, but he had to stretch slightly to get the shot away and it was blocked en route to goal.

The same player went closer five minutes later, when a lovely move across the pitch ended with Viadimír Coufal delivering a cross from the right.  Raphaël Varane didn’t really deal with it and the ball dropped for Bowen, who struck goalwards. David de Gea was almost wrong footed, but stuck out a right boot to make the save.

At the other end, Łukasz Fabiański made a superb save to tip Bruno Fernandes’ effort onto the post, but West Ham were looking dangerous on the counter and they moved in front on the half-hour. 

Bowen cut inside from the right flank and nudged inside to Benrahma. He had enough space to take a touch on the edge of the D and unleash a right footed shot. Varane tried to make the block, but could not get enough on the ball, only directing it into the opposite corner that de Gea was moving to.

The visitors hit back strongly, though, and three minutes later Kurt Zouma recovered brilliantly to slide in and block from Ronaldo as he threatened to strike goalwards.

Ronaldo’s next chance, though, ended up in the net. 35 minutes had been played when Fernandes crossed from the left, and although Fabiański saved the Portuguese’s header, the ball dropped kindly for him to knock home.

Ronaldo forced a decent save from Fabiański with an angled drive shortly after, while Nikola Vlašić swept Aaron Cresswell’s low cross over the top to close out an entertaining opening period.

Fabiański was called upon to make a big save in the first minute of the second half, closing down the angles to block from Ronaldo after Bruno Fernandes had intercepted Pablo Fornals’ off-target pass and immediately released his countryman.

Harry Maguire then headed a Luke Shaw corner off target as the visitors started the second half strongly, before West Ham attacked themselves, with Fornals flicking Bowen’s low cross wide of the mark.

The game then settled down again, with Manchester United’s probing but West Ham strong in defence and, although Ronaldo had a couple of penalty shouts when he went down in the box, until the dramatic final few minutes, it looked as though neither team was going to land that killer blow.

However, Lingard changed all that in the 89th minute, collecting a pass from fellow sub Nemanja Matic inside the box, shifting the ball onto his right foot and curling into the top right corner.

West Ham still had one last chance to rescue a point, being awarded a penalty in the final minute of stoppage time after referee Martin Atkinson was called to his VAR screen to judge that Shaw had handled Andriy Yarmolenko’s cross.

Mark Noble came off the bench to take the penalty, but was denied by de Gea as he looked for the bottom right corner as the visitors kept hold of the points.

West Ham United: Fabianski, Coufal, Zouma, Ogbonna, Cresswell, Rice, Souček, Fornals, Vlašić (Yarmolenko 68), Benrahma (Lanzini 88), Bowen (Noble 90+4)
Subs: Areola (GK), Fredericks, Diop, Dawson, Masuaku, Král

Goal: Benrahma 30

Manchester United: De Gea, Wan-Bissaka, Maguire (c), Varane, Shaw, McTominay, Fred (Matic 88), Greenwood (Sancho 73), Fernandes, Pogba (Lingard 73), Ronaldo
Subs: Heaton (GK), Bailly, Dalot, van de Beek, Mata, Martial

Goals: Ronaldo 35, Lingard 89

Referee: Martin Atkinson