Sakho strikes to give West Ham share of the spoils at Manchester United
PUBLISHED: 18:37 27 November 2016 | UPDATED: 18:39 27 November 2016
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The Hammers put in a battling performance to grab a deserved draw at Old Trafford
Manchester United 1 West Ham United 1
West Ham United battled and baulked their way to a richly-deserved draw at Old Trafford, where Diafra Sakho netted the first goal of the season by a Hammers striker to give his side a quick-fire second-minute lead before Zlatan Ibrahimovic levelled midway through the first half.
And in a fast, furious, frenetic and frenzied affair in which both sides had their chances to seal victory, Red Devils boss José Mourinho was also sent to the stands as the Hammers stood their ground to the vociferous approval of the claret and blue fans in the crowd of 75,313.
A heartbreaking last-gasp defeat at Tottenham Hotspur, last Saturday had left West Ham languishing precariously in 17th-place and, following that loss at the Lane, Slaven Bilić made two switches as James Collins came in for the suspended Winston Reid, while skipper Mark Noble returned in place of substitute Andre Ayew.
But the Hammers quickly put that disappointment behind them as they stunned Old Trafford into silence within just two minutes of kick-off, after Dimitri Payet’s first raid of the afternoon was thwarted by Jesse Lingaard’s high lunge just outside the area.
And although the Frenchman’s inviting free-kick from the right fizzed across the forehead of Michail Antonio, the soaring Sakho was already outjumping Zlatan Ibrahimovic and the Senegalese striker duly nodded home from six yards to claim his first goal since netting against United in the Hammers last-ever game at the Boleyn Ground back in May.
Following Thursday’s 4-0 thumping of Feyenoord in the Europa League, United - kicking off in sixth-spot - had made half-a-dozen changes as David De Gea, Andre Herrera, Marcus Rashford, Marcos Rojo, Matteo Darmian and Lingaard each returned to the fold.
Clearly rocked by Sakho’s shocker, United tried to get back on terms but Paul Pogba wastefully deposited a 30-yarder high into his own fans and then Darmian curled one into Darren Randolph’s clutches.
But on 21 minutes, United did draw level, when Pogba did much better with a lofted 40-yard pass that saw Ibrahimovic ghost behind the statuesque Collins to glance a downward header past the helplessly exposed Randolph.
This was certainly building into enthralling encounter and, shortly afterwards, the protesting Pogba was booked for diving as he jumped out of the way of a Noble lunge and that was just too much for Mourinho, whose own histrionics saw him dismissed from the technical area by the busy referee, Jonathan Moss.
Even without their manager now out of the dug-out, though, United still pressed and Lingaard hooked high over from all of three yards before Rashford broke clear but somehow - with the whites of the ‘keeper’s eyes in his sights - United youngster was brilliantly foiled by Randall’s outstretched right ankle.
Pogba also sent an angled header inches past the far post, while Ibrahimovic nodded wide, too, but with Collins, Cheikhou Kouyaté and Angelo Ogbonna repelling everything that was coming their way, the Hammers - who had a decent, late penalty shout for a handball against Rojo turned aside - held out to keep it all-square at the break.
Just after the restart, Sakho steered Payet’s corner inches over De Gea’s crossbar as West Ham almost repeated their early first-half antics.
And on 55 minutes, with the whole of Manchester expecting Payet to send an angled 25-yard free-kick into the mixer, the French artisan caught out everyone except the alert De Gea, who palmed the audacious attempt over his own crossbar.
The consequent corner caused equal mayhem in the United area, too, however the ball was eventually scrambled clear but midway Bilić had to re-shuffle, when Sakho pulled up like a tiring racehorse to be replaced by former United starlet, Ashley Fletcher, who stepped from the bench to make his first senior outing on the Old Trafford turf that he had coveted as a lad.
The Reds responded by withdrawing Juan Mata and Rashford as Henrikh Mkhitaryan emerged alongside Wayne Rooney, who immediately curled a low 18-yarder into Randolph’s gloves before Lingaard scorched the ‘keeper’s palms from similar range.
Ayew replaced Manuel Lanzini for the final quarter-hour and, although Mkhitaryan prodded in at the far post the cheers were quickly turned to jeers by an offside flag and then Randolph got down well to turn Pogba’s pile-driver aside at full-stretch.
With eight minutes remaining, Collins’ attempted back-header sold his ‘keeper short but as Ibrahimovic rounded Randolph, Kouyaté appeared out of the cold Manchester night to rob the stunned Swedish striker, who was about to tap home a certain winner.
But with United pressing, former fledgling Fletcher almost had the final word, when he steam-rolled his way into the United box but his low eight-yarder thudded into De Gea’s ribcage to leave both sides settling for a point, ahead of Wednesday’s EFL Cup quarter-final back here at Old Trafford.
RED DEVILS: De Gea, A. Valencia, Darmian, Jones, Rojo, Herrera, Pogba, Mata (Mkhitaryan 65) Lingaard (Fellaini 85) Rashford (Rooney 65) Ibrahimvic. Unused subs: Romero, Blind, Young.
HAMMERS: Randolph, Antonio, Cresswell, Collins, Ogbonna, Kouyaté, Obiang, Noble, Lanzini (Ayew 74), Payet (Feghouli 90+4), Sakho (Fletcher 65). Unused subs: Adrián, Nordtveit, Zaza, Fernandes.
Booked: Pogba (27), Cresswell (89), A.Valencia (90+1).
Referee: Jon Moss
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