By Alex Wilson
- Payet scores from free-kick
- Martial levels for United
- Carrick, Lingard and Herrera start
- Mata absent through suspension
Manchester United held West Ham to a draw in an action packed FA Cup Quarter-Final match at Old Trafford.
After a worrying performance in the Europa League in midweek, United fans were hoping for their team’s players to give a better showing in Sunday’s FA cup game against West Ham.
The Hammers have a superb away record against top Premier League teams this season, with victories over Arsenal, Man City and Liverpool to name but a few, so the game was a big challenge for Louis Van Gaal’s men, who had just two days to prepare.
Louis Van Gaal made three changes to the team that played on Thursday night, bringing Carrick, Lingard and Herrera into the line-up for Schneiderlin, Memphis and Mata respectively.
Both teams were firing on all cylinders from the word go in a heated battle that saw referee Martin Atkinson put to work immediately; this was a sign of things to come in the match.
After only 3 minutes of play, Martial was brought down by Winston Reid before Rashford used the referee’s advantage to take the ball deeper into West Ham’s defence. The attack was cut short as the ball was cleared, and Reid was given a yellow card. Fellaini headed high from the resulting corner.
West Ham gave the more promising performance during the opening 10 minutes, but squandered chances from Carroll and Emineke saw them fail to punish the hosts.
United’s first clear chance came on 16 minutes, as Lingard was found in some space by Varela, but his shot was mis-hit and went to the right of the goal.
A minute later, Varela again got the ball into the danger area for United, this time finding Rashford, who tried his luck with an overhead kick which flew over the goal.
West Ham missed a sitter on 18 minutes as Emineke, who should’ve been better marked, headed straight at De Gea after a decent cross from Cresswell.
Both teams were knocking hard at each other’s door in the first 30 minutes, but neither finding the perfect final touch. Martial particularly was getting a lot of joy down the left –hand side of West Ham’s box, going past defenders and providing chances for United, but no end product resulted.
Herrera had his second decent chance of the game on 27 minutes after Rojo broke away down the left and cut the ball back into the box, only for the Spaniard to strike it high.
Just before the break, Payet showed superb vision to deliver a pass which found Cresswell in tons of space down the left, but his attempted cross was caught comfortably by De Gea.
As half time arrived, United had hit 8 shots to West Ham’s 7: West Ham with the only shot on target, which pretty much summed the half up. It was good, open, attacking football from both teams, but there was no real quality to the final touches.
The second-half continued much the same as the first: attacking football from both teams, with United controlling the game with the majority of possession. West Ham looked dangerous on the counter-attack, but it was United creating much more opportunities in the first 15 minutes.
Calls for handball erupted from Old Trafford as Winston Reid’s arm made contact with the ball inside the box. However, it had deflected up from his body and the referee said no penalty.
Minutes later, and this time, it was the turn of the West Ham players and fans to cry for a penalty as Dimitri Payet was brought down by Marcos Rojo in the box. Referee Martin Atkinson waved the claims away again.
The referee did go on to give a free-kick West Ham’s way after Daley Blind appeared to pull Payet to the ground in the 67th minute. Payet then curled a screamer past De Gea from the free-kick at about 30 yards out. The ball curved viciously in the air, clipped the post and went in, leaving De Gea helpless and putting the visitors in front.
Martial looked like he was in to equalize for United after a clever one-two with Rashford, but he was flagged offside by the linesman.
United did finally manage to reward themselves for all their pressing and control of possession after Ander Hererra chipped the ball over from the right to the left of the goal, where Martial coolly placed the ball in the back of the net.
Both teams seemed unhappy with the draw and were both gunning for a decisive goal late on, as Carrick dragged a shot just wide of goal from outside the box before Antonio later called De Gea into making a lunging save.
The final moments of the game saw West Ham pile on pressure with corner after corner giving an intense end to the game, but they never managed to restore their lead as the game ended 1 -1.
Overall, it was a fair result based on the performance shown on the pitch by both teams. West Ham will feel they are favourites to win at home in the replay, but United will be determined to book a place in the semi-finals after Arsenal and Chelsea both exited the competition this weekend.
Manchester United: De Gea, Varela (Darmian 87), Smalling, Blind, Rojo, Carrick, Fellaini (Schweinsteiger 76), Lingard, Herrera, Martial, Rashford (Memphis 76) Substitutes Not Used: Romero, Williams, Schneiderlin, Januzaj.