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Hammers honour Upton Park by piercing Man Utd top four hopes in 3-2 thriller

Holly Thackeray | May 10, 2016

West Ham United 3-2 Manchester United

  • Tremendous atmosphere for last Premier League game at Upton Park
  • Delayed start due to Man Utd late arrival
  • Sakho struck in 10th minute to put Hammers ahead
  • Martial scored leveller for Red Devils at start of second-half
  • The France forward fired in again to make it 2-1
  • Antonio header equalised in 76th minute
  • Reid with late winner for West Ham
  • Red Devils stay two points behind fourth placed Manchester City

Hammers sign off in style

Even a neutral fan couldn’t fail to be absorbed by the atmosphere at Upton Park, as West Ham United bid an emotional goodbye to their football theatre and spiritual home of over a century.

Slaven Bilic’s boys duly took part in a thrilling finale, closing the curtain in style, in a terrific, full-throttle 3-2 triumph over Manchester United, perhaps spoiling the Red Devils’ Premier League top four hopes.

Dangerman Diafra Sakho had opened the scoring much to the home crowd’s palpable and deafening delight, before a wasteful West Ham allowed Anthony Martial to equalise after the interval.

Martial made it two as part of a brilliant brace, but the Hammers found an extra level, as Michail Antonio levelled late on, before defender Winston Reid also got in on the act with a dramatic winner.

So West Ham (27/20 with Coral to next defeat Stoke City) wave goodbye to Upton Park with victory and look ahead to a bright future, as Man Utd languish two points now behind top four rivals Manchester City with only one match still to play…

West Ham United v Manchester United - Barclays Premier League - Upton Park

Sakho strikes back

Amid a raucous rendition of ‘I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles’ the battle began as expected; with plenty of jostling inside and outside the box, a blitz of tenacious tackles and Hammers stars crowding out their guests in swarms, with every successful interception greeted by a wall of noise.

Though it was not all argy bargy and spoiling tactics, with the first 45 of fearless football and flair the perfect tribute to the style the east Londoners have played all season, and the type of attacking intent this club traditionally demands. No wonder they are said to have sold around 52,000 season tickets for next term at the Olympic Stadium.

By the 10th minute, the energetic Irons had drawn first blood, with Sakho the striker that sent Upton Park into early deserved delirium. Watched by England boss Roy Hodgson, Aaron Cresswell did his call-up cause no harm by threading a wonderful pass to Manuel Lanzini, who in turn lost Morgan Schneiderlin, before pinging across the box to lurking Sakho.

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The sharpshooter completed the game of pinball with a delicious sidefoot past David de Gea’s left post, taking a kind dink for Daley Blind along the way.

Wave after wave of West Ham attack

Sakho’s fine finish had set the tone, as sloppy passes were picked off and a lack of central presence for Man Utd exploited – although perhaps not ruthlessly enough.

Mark Noble had an ambitious volley blocked, while slick Antonio move saw Dimitri Payet shoot straight for De Gea after an Andy Carroll knockdown.

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The Hammers were knocking at the door, and should have gone 2-0 up, as a Carroll sought to capitalise on a Blind blip and gaps in the Red Devils’ rearguard by running clear on goal, only to be denied by De Gea’s legs.

Antonio then thought he had increased the hosts’ lead, as the Englishman bundled the ball over the line, but before he could finish his dance moves it was adjudged to have gone out with the cross cracking off Valencia on the path to Man Utd’s area.

Bilic’s Hammers were hungry, however, and surely smelt blood, as Lanzini also lashed just wide, with Noble urgently and aggressively seizing midfield possession and sliding through Payet shortly after, though the France playmaker spurned the chance with a strange high and wide scooped shot. It was a let off, but would the Mancunians make it count?

Martial hands Man Utd momentum

It took just 51 minutes for the Red Devils to get in gear, as France marksman Martial found the moment of magic to unlock Upton Park.

De Gea pumped a long ball forward that the Hammers failed to clear, allowing Marcus Rashford and Juan Mata to spring an attack, with the latter Spaniard squaring to Martial, who simply passed the ball into West Ham’s net.

If the first-half illustrated all the Irons’ plus point, the second was going some way to highlighting their defensive frailties.

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Though a return Hammer blow was threatened, as battling target man Carroll squirmed the ball to Payet, with the star player just curling wide. While the protagonist’s set-piece soon after fell favourably to a free Sakho, who fluffed his lines and header, as another chance went begging for Bilic’s side.

Just as threatening, however, were the resurgent Red Devils, with a Rashford backheel after Mata maneuvering almost deflected into the net.

Final frenzy sees Hammers be heroes

Another goal did soon arrive for the men in white, as Martial’s dance past West Ham’s defence, with his cross-shot for rippling the net, briefly handed the travelling support hope.

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The Red Devils’ 2-1 lead did not last long, however, as two headed goals saw Louis van Gaal’s guys dramatically undone.

Payet made a meal of a free-kick, but took his time in picking out rampant wingman by trade Antonio, with the Englishman leaping unchallenged to power past De Gea with exceptional aerial prowess.

Salvaging a point would have been enough reason for home fans to celebrate, but the Hammers were not done yet, as another Payet set-piece exposed the guests again in the 80th minute. This time Reid got his head to another precise Payet delivery, nodding past De Gea, who uncharacteristically helped the ball into his own net.

There was no time to dwell, however, as this five-goal thriller endured a typically frenzied finish, as the curtain came down spectacularly on West Ham’s great stadium.

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