An emphatic header from Marcus Rashford was enough to give Manchester United a 1-0 win over West Ham in the Premier League on Sunday afternoon, where the Reds survived a late onslaught to see out the victory.
Christian Eriksen created a chance out of nothing in the 38th minute when he set up Rashford for the opener; the Dane carried out a smooth give-and-go with Bruno Fernandes on the right-hand side before crossing it in to Rashford who rose high above Thilo Kehrer at the back post and bulleted a header centrally to give United the lead.Embed from Getty Images
Rashford’s 100th goal for the club looked set to spark his side into action, but quite the opposite played out with very little attacking output from the home side in the second half.
Scott McTominay was on for Anthony Elanga and Fred came into the fray in place of Eriksen which showed Erik Ten Hag’s intent for the final twenty minutes. West Ham naturally started to push forward more with Michail Antonio having been introduced, and had it not been for two outstanding saves from David De Gea in the dying moments, David Moyes’ side could have easily come away with a well-earned draw.
Fred saw his header trickle onto the post in the last few minutes. Fortunately for Ten Hag and his side, the one goal was all that was necessary.
Final Score: Manchester United 1-0 West Ham United (Rashford 38’)
Man of the matchEmbed from Getty Images
There are a few shouts for man of the match for the clash against West Ham; Rashford is the obvious man as the match winner, but De Gea was superb between the sticks when called upon late on, with Lisandro Martinez standing out in the back-line and Diogo Dalot defending excellently as crosses were thrown into the box.
Had it not been for those saves, though, United fans would have been going to bed very frustrated after the match.
De Gea did not have an awful lot to do throughout the game other than handle one or two drilled efforts. The two or three at the end were nothing short of superb, however, and you could tell from how he was swarmed at full-time how good and important they were.
The second one from Declan Rice’s first-time strike was one you would expect the goalkeeper to make, but the first one from Kurt Zouma’s header was a case of the Spaniard making his way across goal and clawing the ball out with a strong hand.
To put it simply: a big moment from a big player.
The bigger pictureEmbed from Getty Images
Many supporters were disappointed not to see a more intense, pressing performance from the Red Devils against the Hammers, but considering the game was won and a clean sheet was achieved, there cannot be too many complaints.
There are a few possible explanations for the approach on Sunday evening. Having played lots of games of late, perhaps the players were incapable of going all-out, which makes sense given the drop-off in the second half. Ten Hag may have wanted to conserve his players’ energy with a big game in the Europa League around the corner where he wants to press, or maybe he was showing his players the blueprint for how he wants them to perform on the continent on Thursday.
Whatever the explanation, it is not as if the players have just not responded to the wish of the manager, because Ten Hag could have made some changes early if that was the case. The most important thing is that the team play better than that, more often than not.Embed from Getty Images
Harry Maguire was back in the side, and with Raphael Varane out injured and Victor Lindelof sidelined through illness (as was announced pre-match), it was good to see the skipper put in an average-to-good performance as he got through some rusty moments.
Antony was declared injured by the manager prior to kick-off, and fans will hope to see him back soon as Anthony Elanga looked somewhat out of his depth at the Theatre of Dreams for the majority of the game until he was substituted.
What is next?
Next up for Ten Hag and United is Real Sociedad away in the Europa League, which kicks off at 17:45 (BST) at the Reale Arena in San Sebastian on Thursday 3rd November.
Afterwards, the team head to the East Midlands to face Aston Villa in the Premier League, which kicks off at 14:00 (BST) on Sunday 6th November.