Manchester United need extra time to struggle past West Ham in drab FA Cup contest
After the disappointment of the late equaliser against Everton only days ago, United faced an all-or-nothing clash against West Ham in the fifth-round of the FA Cup.
Donny Van de Beek was given his chance to replace the creativity of Bruno Fernandes in the centre of United’s attacking midfield, though ultimately United failed to kick off strongly without the Portuguese’s spark.
West Ham defended resolutely against the pressure of United’s dominant game plan, and blocked shot after shot from a host side that continued to fail in probing past the Hammers’ defensive line.
The greatest chance fashioned in the half came with the help of a hefty West Ham deflection, as Victor Lindelöf’s headed effort skewed off Craig Dawson only to be saved by a stretching Lukasz Fabianski.
After 45 minutes United seemed to already have run out of ideas to penetrate David Moyes’ organised defence, and hopes were high that the second half could deliver a more entertaining display.
Half-time: Manchester United 0 – 0 West Ham
With more need than most to make a statement at Old Trafford, Moyes sought to steal the initiative with the introduction of Jarrod Bowen and Ryan Fredericks.
The additional pace saw West Ham’s counter-attacking threat increased. Nervous moments were spread throughout the half as United glimpsed nightmares of a stolen win, though the Hammers failed to seize their rare chances.
After 70 minutes Ole Gunnar Solkskjaer had also seen enough, and inevitably turned to Fernandes as he and hot-in-form Scott McTominay replaced Nemanja Matic and Van de Beek.
Fernandes immediately sought to haul his side over the line, but soon was to discover the plight of his teammates as shot after shot was blocked by Dawson and co.
Edinson Cavani joined the fray with five minutes to go, and eyes started to turn to extra-time as its prospect became unavoidable.
After 90 minutes: Manchester United 0 – 0 West Ham
With only half an hour left to utilise their superior quality before penalties ensued, United pushed forward in an attempt to put the game to bed.
The breakthrough finally came. Luke Shaw, freshly off the bench, flew into a 50/50 challenge and launched a counter-attack. Fred was the first to put a ball in for United’s forwards, though the Hammers defended well and the ball found its way out to Marcus Rashford.
Rashford sought to find Fernandes with a lateral pass, but unbeknownst to either himself or Fernandes McTominay strode forward to lash home the pass.
The balance shifted as United took their turn to defend for their lives. Moyes’ men pushed forward and chances were created for both sides, though in the end nothing could change the scoreline.
Scott McTominay, with his third in three games, had launched United into the quarter-finals of the FA Cup.
After Extra-Time: Manchester United 1 – 0 West Ham
Man of the Match: Scott McTominay