Manchester United moved back up to second place in the Premier League table with a narrow 1-0 victory over West Ham at Old Trafford.
The Red Devils, who still have a game in hand on leaders Manchester City, cut the gap to the summit to 14 points courtesy of an own goal from Hammers defender Craig Dawson.
The hosts were perhaps fortunate to win by such a manner but should have opened the scoring in a first half where they were clearly the dominant side. The returning Marcus Rashford somehow nodded a clear-cut chance wide before Lukasz Fabianski’s finger tips flicked Mason Greenwood’s curling effort on to the post.
West Ham’s game plan was evidently to frustrate the home team but it made them somewhat toothless going forward as they failed to muster a shot in the opening 45 minutes. They were duly made to pay the price on 53 minutes when Dawson diverted Bruno Fernandes’ left-wing corner into his own net.
David Moyes responded with a double change that shifted West Ham to a more attacking approach, but they could not conjure up a significant opportunity to snatch a point. Indeed, United could have added to their margin of victory, but Greenwood saw their best effort come back off the post.
The result sees United edge a point above third-placed Leicester, who thumped Sheffield United earlier. West Ham stay fifth and are three points off Chelsea in fourth spot, with a game in hand.
Man United will now turn their focus to the cup competitions with Thursday’s Europa League last 16, second leg against AC Milan followed by an FA Cup quarter final at Leicester City on Sunday. West Ham will continue to concentrate on their push for Europe when they entertain Arsenal in the league next Sunday.
Scott McTominay (r.) und Bruno Fernandes von Manchester United freuen sich über das 1:0 gegen West Ham United
Image credit: Getty Images
TALKING POINT - Man United get the job done
With Chelsea, Everton and Tottenham all dropping points, this was a real opportunity for Man United to put some serious distance between themselves and the clutch of sides hoping to gate-crash the top four. It wasn’t pretty in the end but after a flurry of draws to accompany last weekend’s impressive win over Man City, this was a crucial three points that moves them nine points clear of the Hammers in fifth. The priority will be securing that top four berth and looking to finish as close to runaway leaders, City as the best of the rest (assuming Pep Guardiola’s men don’t suffer an unlikely collapse). This was also a very solid way to kick off a big week for United, who will now focus on their bid to push for glory in the cup competitions.
West Ham showed lots of defensive grit, but it’s no surprise to see Moyes once again fail to win at Old Trafford as an opposition manager. It’s the 15th time he’s failed to do so and his negative tactics ultimately meant his team didn’t do enough to truly put the home team under any major pressure. They will look to shrug this narrow loss off and remain very much in the hunt for the European places as we enter the business end of the season.
'This week was massive' - Solskjaer relieved after win over West Ham
MAN OF THE MATCH - Lukasz Fabianski (West Ham)
The Hammers stopper made a string of fine saves to keep his team in it. If it wasn’t for an unfortunate own goal his display may well have claimed his team an unlikely point given the one-sided pattern of the game overall.
Man Utd: Henderson 6, Shaw 8, Lindelof 7, Maguire 7, Wan-Bissaka 7, Fred 7, McTominay 8, Fernandes 8, Greenwood 8, James 6, Rashford 7.
West Ham: Fabianski 8, Coufal 7, Cresswell 7, Dawson 6, Diop 7, Johnson 6, Rice 7, Noble 6, Soucek 7, Bowen 7, Antonio 6. Subs: Benrahma 7, Lanzini 7.