Manchester United 1-1 West Ham United: Red Devils need point to reach Champions League

Manchester United 1-1 West Ham United: Red Devils need point to reach Champions League

Mason Greenwood scored his 17th goal of the season for Manchester United

Manchester United need a point from their final game to clinch a Champions League place after coming from behind to draw against West Ham, who confirmed their Premier League survival.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side moved third, a point ahead of Leicester, who they face at the King Power Stadium on Sunday.

But victory for Brendan Rodgers’ side will deny the Red Devils a spot in Europe’s elite club competition next season – unless fourth-placed Chelsea lose both their remaining games.

Meanwhile, the point for David Moyes’ side guarantees Premier League football next season as they now lie four points clear of the relegation zone.

Michail Antonio put the Hammers ahead in first-half stoppage time with his eighth goal in six games after Paul Pogba gave away a penalty when he raised his hands to block a Declan Rice free-kick.

Eighteen-year-old Mason Greenwood levelled with his 17th goal of a stellar first season as a senior player.

Both sides had chances to win it, with under-pressure David de Gea producing a fingertip save to repel a deflected Jarrod Bowen effort and substitute Odion Ighalo turned a near-post effort wide at the other end.

United already knew their efforts to secure a top-four berth would go down to the last day at Leicester. However, the point means that, after being in fifth since February, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side have moved back into the top four for the first time since 14 September.

Greenwood the United star

Although Solskjaer said during United’s pre-season tour of Australia he rated Greenwood as the best finisher at the club, it was not until December that he gave the Yorkshireman his first Premier League start of the season.

Twenty-two games on, it is hard to imagine the line-up for an important game being picked without him.

His latest clinical effort was his 10th in the league this term. Michael Owen’s astonishing effort in 1997-98, when he scored 18, is the only time a teenager has done better since the Premier League was formed in 1992.

The intricate close passing with Martial which created the shooting opportunity underlined that Greenwood is much more than a goalscorer. It felt like he was taking responsibility when other, more experienced, team-mates had not.

Owen went to a World Cup after his stellar season. Greenwood has more time and, although he will still be a teenage when the European Championships begin next summer, on this evidence it would be no surprise to see him included in Gareth Southgate’s squad.

The goal was vital for United, who have failed to win successive home games for the first time in nearly six months, but have the advantage at just the right time as Solskjaer looks to return the club back to something like their former selves.

Moyes on a mission

At half-time, Moyes marched towards the dressing rooms with a look of determination on his face. He must also have been feeling of immense satisfaction.

Moyes was sacked as United boss in April 2014, less than a season into a six-year contract as Sir Alex Ferguson’s successor.

In the build-up to the game, Moyes said the only difference between him and Solskjaer was that the Norwegian was given time.

The statistics suggest Moyes has a point. Solskjaer’s results in his first 51 games as United boss are broadly similar to the Scot, who won two games more, but lost an extra one as well.

The obvious difference is that Moyes was not a legendary figure at Old Trafford and never scored an injury-time goal to win a Champions League final. It means no-one will ever know if he could have turned around a dismal first season.

However, thanks to Antonio, who has scored more goals in the past 22 days than he has managed in either of the two previous seasons, we do know Moyes has twice dragged West Ham clear of a perilous situation in a relegation fight.

Unlike two years ago, when they ditched the Scot in favour of Manuel Pellegrini, West Ham seem certain to stick with Moyes, who has already told the club he wants them to start promising less and delivering more.

More to follow.



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