WEST HAM 1, MANCHESTER UNITED 1
Daley Blind’s injury time equaliser secured a draw for Manchester United at West Ham after Sam Allardyce’s side had taken a the lead early in the second half of an attritional game.
Yesterday’s 1-1 draw at the Etihad between Manchester City and Hull City meant that United could have closed the gap to City to just three points, putting real pressure on Manuel Pellegrini’s team, but the Hammers had different ideas and instead United slipped back to fourth after Southampton leapfrogged them following their victory at manager-less QPR and the gap to City remains five points.
Mark Noble’s free kick fell nicely for Cheikhou Kouyate to turn, juggle and volley early in the second half to give the Hammers a deserved lead against the lacklustre Red Devils.
The Hammers had performed very well in the reverse fixture at Old Trafford, with Kevin Nolan’s goal chalked off for a marginal offside decision which would have been an invaluable equaliser in the last seven minutes of that encounter.
Memories of that game would have been just the motivation for Allardyce’s men who matched up an unchanged Manchester United side from the team that beat Leicester City 3-1 last week by playing their own diamond in midfield and taking the game to their illustrious visitors.
A draw here was the least that West Ham deserved after early saves by David De Gea from Enner Valencia and James Tomkins although an early mistake by Alex Song almost allowed Robin Van Persie into a shooting position.
United were in debt to keeper David De Gea who prevented Mark Noble from doubling the Hammers’ lead against their struggling visitors.
Radamel Falcao could have levelled the scores after exchanging passes with Robin Van Persie as United chased the equaliser but fluffed his lines, while his Dutch strike partner was denied by Adrian with his feet.
West Ham were looking forward to a first win against United since 2007 but Louis Van Gaal switched to a more direct game, with Marouane Fellaini coming on to supplement the forwards.
The Hammers were rattled and with Fellaini posing serious questions to the home defence Diafra Sakho’s header under pressure from Rojo’s cross fell for Daley Blind to hit past Adrian in the 92nd minute to level matters.
The drama wasn’t over, however, and Luke Shaw was sent off for a second bookable offence, the fourth sending off United’s season so far, as United tried to find a winner.