Marcus Rashford’s historic goal gave Manchester United a 1-0 Premier League victory over West Ham on Sunday.
The difference between the two teams came down to Rashford’s 100th goal for the club, which occurred on the 85th anniversary of a remarkable streak in which United named an academy graduate in every matchday squad since 1937.
Looking at the Red Devils’ recent performances, they weren’t exactly stellar, but with a few changes, perhaps that was to be expected. Although they lacked fluidity, they didn’t lack confidence, and they remained focused throughout the second half to keep the Hammers, who were also bad, at bay.
The first few exchanges were characterised by errant passes and careless periods of possession. After 16 minutes, Rashford had the best chance, but Lukasz Fabianski easily saved it with a powerful header.
After 26 minutes, Thilo Kehrer found himself slaloming through red shirts and slipping past Jarrod Bowen inside the box as West Ham started to take control of the match. David de Gea saved a shot that would later be ruled offside, though.
Attacking-wise, United struggled, and it was clear that the frontline had undergone significant changes. However, just as they seemed to be stuck in second gear, a deft pass from Bruno Fernandes to Christian Eriksen allowed Rashford to make up for his earlier error by heading in at the back post, giving United the lead at halftime.
Gianluca Scamacca was fortunate not to receive a second yellow card when his high foot made contact with Lisandro Martinez’s head early in the second half. Just a few seconds later, Rashford burst down the other end and narrowly missed the far post with a shot, nearly doubling United’s advantage.
Erik ten Hag’s team continued to look wasteful in possession as the clock approached the hour mark, but West Ham was unable to capitalise.
After 77 minutes, Lisandro Martinez did an outstanding job of anticipating a ball to the back post and heading clear, denying West Ham from a favourable position.
With the game being decided by just one goal, David Moyes’ team was inevitably under more pressure as the game came down to the wire. David de Gea made an easy save in response to Michail Antonio’s pressure, but Kurt Zouma’s header from the ensuing corner left the Spanish goalkeeper gasping.
The pursuit of an equaliser gave United the opportunity to play on the break, and when Fred arrived late to head a cross in the direction of goal, the post stopped them. West Ham kept trying to get in, but Bowen’s direct shot narrowly missed the bottom corner, and Rice’s long-range attempt was palmed away by De Gea, giving United three points and moving them up to fifth in the standings.
Manchester United vs West Ham player ratings – Premier League
Man Utd (4-2-3-1)
GK: David de Gea – 7/10
RB: Diogo Dalot – 8/10
CB: Harry Maguire – 6/10
CB: Lisandro Martinez – 8/10
LB: Luke Shaw – 5/10
CM: Casemiro – 7/10
CM: Christian Eriksen – 7/10
RW: Anthony Elanga – 4/10
AM: Bruno Fernandes – 7/10
LW: Marcus Rashford – 8/10
ST: Cristiano Ronaldo – 5/10
SUB: Scott McTominay (61′ for Elanga) – 5/10
SUB: Fred (79′ for Eriksen) – 5/10
Manager: Erik ten Hag – 8/10
West Ham (4-2-3-1)
GK: Lukasz Fabianski – N/A
RB: Thilo Kehrer – 6/10
CB: Craig Dawson – 5/10
CB: Kurt Zouma – 5/10
LB: Aaron Cresswell – 6/10
CM: Tomas Soucek – 4/10
CM: Declan Rice – 5/10
RW: Jarrod Bowen – 4/10
AM: Flynn Downes – 5/10
LW: Said Benrahma – 7/10
ST: Gianluca Scamacca – 5/10
SUB: Alphonse Areola (45′ for Fabianski) – 6/10
SUB: Michail Antonio (57′ for Scamacca) – 6/10
SUB: Pablo Fornals (77′ for Downes) – N/A
Manager: David Moyes – 4/10
Player of the Match – Marcus Rashford