Manchester United’s race for the Top 4, and consequently a place in next year’s Champions League, has taken a severe blow after they lost last night’s mid-week fixture with West Ham at Upton Park. United, who were leading the scoreline 2-1 till the 76th minute of the game, saw an impressive West Ham side score twice in the final 18 minutes of the game making the final score at final whistle 3-2 in favor of the home team.
The game kick-off was delayed for 45 minutes because the United team bus arrived late and was attacked by angry West Ham fans as it entered the stadium. West Ham have promised to ban the fans involved in the violence for life.
Manchester United went to the game knowing that a win here would almost certainly guarantee a place for them in next season’s Champions League. However, this loss has now once again put the fate of the Red Devils at mercy of arch rivals Manchester City. United now have to win their final game against newly promoted AFC Bournemouth and more importantly pray that City lose against Swansea at Liberty Stadium.
— West Ham United FC (@whufc_official) May 11, 2016
It was an emotional match for the Hammers, as it was to be their final game at Uptown Park, which has been their home ground for 112 years. And so they mustered a perfect adieu with the win over Manchester United and possibly a place in the Europa League next season. West Ham are set to move to the Olympic stadium from the beginning of their 2016/17 season.
West Ham wanted a happy ending to their last match at Upton Park, and they showed that determination from the start of their game. They pressed aggressively and scored within the opening 10 minutes of the game. Diafra Sakho’s shot deflected off Danny Blind and found the bottom corner of the net following good combination of play down the left-wing by Aaron Cresswell and Manuel Lanzini. West Ham kept united under pressure throughout the first half. At half time, they led 1-0, having missed several opportunities to score. The Hammers’ player of the year, Dimitri Payet and in-form Andy Carroll both missed great chances before the break.
United boss, Louis Van Gaal substituted an ineffective Morgan Schneiderlin with midfield veteran Michael Carrick at haft time. This substitution showed instant results, as United leveled the game only six minutes after the break. Marcus Rashford fed the ball to Mata who cut it back to Anthony Martial, who finally tapped it in from close range. Martial struck again in the 72nd minute with an incredible solo display. Wayne Rooney won the ball at midfield and passed it to Rashford, who then found Martial in the left wing. The 20-year-old Frenchman then dribbled past the West Ham defense to score a superb goal.
Manchester United’s hope of sneaking out with a win lasted for less than five minutes after a beautiful cross from Dimitri Payet found Antonio who headed the ball into the back of net with ease. United’s misery continued as Winston Reid headed a free kick from Dimitri Payet. David De Gea got a hand to the shot but could not stop it as Uptown Park roared in celebration.
This loss has also put Louis Van Gaal’s future into doubt. Van Gaal has been severely criticized by fans and pundits alike for his lack of attacking intent, which was visible in last night’s game as well. Despite having 59 percent possession of the ball in arguably one of their most important games of the season, United could only manage a meager three shots (2 of those on target). In contrast, West Ham fired 20 shots, six of which were on target.
Rumors of the dutch-man leaving the club at the end of this season have been rife since December, with the likes of Jose Mourinho and current assistant coach Ryan Giggs being linked as potential replacements. However, there were speculation that a top 4 finish and a winner’s medal at the FA Cup final against Palace might just save his job. So while the folks in West Ham bid farewell to Uptown Park following their thrilling win against the Red Devils, Louis Van Gaal could be bidding farewell to Old Trafford at the end of the season.
[Photo by Frank Augstein/AP Images]