Premier League | 27 Nov. 2016 | Old Trafford | Attendance: 75,314 | Scorers: Ibrahimovic 21; Sakho 2
Manchester United were held at home for the fourth consecutive time in the Premier League as visitors West Ham United forced a frustrating 1-1 draw at Old Trafford.
Diafra Sakho put the Hammers ahead in less than two minutes, meeting Dimitri Payet’s free-kick, but the Reds responded midway through the first half thanks to a Zlatan Ibrahimovic header. Jose Mourinho’s men pushed hard for the winner, but were repeatedly thwarted by the visitors’ goalkeeper Darren Randolph.
Mourinho shuffled his pack following the impressive midweek win over Feyenoord with a total of six changes. The likes of David De Gea and Ander Herrera were restored to the starting XI, but Bastian Schweinsteiger was the surprise name on the United substitutes’ bench. The German had not featured in the Reds’ match squad since coming on in the Manchester derby victory back on 20 March when Rashford grabbed the headlines with the decisive goal.
United knew there was a psychological advantage to be gained against the Hammers with an EFL Cup quarter-final tie to come against the same opposition on Wednesday, but it was a nightmare start for the Reds as the visitors took the lead in just the second minute.
Before today, Payet had created a league-high 43 goalscoring chances in the Premier League with only four of those chances being converted, but it was soon to be five. After Lingard brought down Payet, his wicked in-swinging free kick was met by Sakho, who muscled past Ibrahimovic, to power a header past De Gea.
United were back on level terms with the first clear chance to equalise. Paul Pogba’s delightfully clipped ball over the top found Ibrahimovic who nodded past Randolph with conviction.
Mourinho was then sent to the stands after he reacted furiously to referee Jonathon Moss’ decision to book Pogba for an apparent dive, but that only seemed to lift United who responded and should really have gone into the break ahead.
First an unselfish Ibrahimovic header found the stretching Lingard who volleyed over, before a Phil Jones header ran right through to Rashford, but the youngster, who was one-on-one, couldn’t beat Randolph.
The unmarked Ibrahimovic then had a shot blocked from a promising position and Randolph denied the Reds again, this time saving from Lingard who was played through by Mata.
Possession: United 74% West Ham 26%
Shots at goal: United 9 West Ham 2
Shots on target: United 4 West Ham 1
Corners: United 4 West Ham 2
Much like the first half, the Hammers were quick out of the blocks. First Sakho headed a corner narrowly over, before De Gea had to tip Payet’s clever free-kick over the bar after he was taken by surprise by the audacity of the Frenchman, who went for goal from a narrow angle.
Seeing a need to lift the tempo, Mourinho introduced two men who were instrumental in the defeat of Feyenoord, Rooney and Mkhitaryan.
It didn’t take long for the latter to pick up where he left off on Thursday as the ball fell to the Armenian in the box and after his effort had hit the post, Lingard tapped into the open net, only to be ruled offside.
Pogba then tried his luck from 25 yards and the familiar orange-shirted figure of Randolph thwarted the Reds again, down low, before a quick counter attack led to Rooney finding Ibrahimovic at the back post, but he was thwarted again by the Hammers’ shot-stopper.
A weak header from James Collins let Ibrahimovic in, but after rounding Randolph, his effort was blocked by a covering West Ham defender. At the other end United Academy graduate Ashley Fletcher almost stole a victory for the Hammers but De Gea made a crucial block.
The Reds have now frustratingly drawn four Old Trafford league games in a row for the first time since November 1980 but at least there’s a swift second chance to beat the stubborn Hammers when they visit again on Wednesday in the EFL Cup.
Possession: United 68% West Ham 32%
Shots at goal: United 17 West Ham 5
Shots on target: United 8 West Ham 2
Corners: United 8 West Ham 4
United: De Gea; Valencia, Jones, Rojo, Darmian; Herrera; Pogba, Mata (Mkhitaryan 65), Rashford (Rooney 65); Lingard (Fellaini 85), Ibrahimovic. Subs not used: Romero, Blind, Schweinsteiger, Young.
Booked: Pogba, Valencia.
West Ham: Randolph, Cresswell, Kouyate, Lanzini (Ayew 74), Obiang, Sakho (Fletcher 65), Noble, Collins, Ogbonna, Payet (Feghouli 90+4), Antonio. Subs not used: Adrian, Nordtveit, Zaza, Fernandes.