Manuel Pellegrini’s West Ham United picked up their first home win of the season on Saturday lunchtime, when they overcame Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United 3-1 at London Stadium. Today, we analyse five Massive Moments from what was an action-packed afternoon in East London, one for the Claret & Blue Army to savour.
West Ham Start With A Bang At London Stadium
To overcome a team like the Red Devils, regardless of what is happening with them, off the pitch, you have to come out of the blocks pretty fast, and this is exactly what Pellegrini’s Hammers did, en-route to a memorable, memorable triumph.
The East Londoners created our first Massive Moment, with just five minutes on the clock, picking up from where they left off in Wednesday night’s remarkable 8-0 thrashing of Macclesfield Town in the Carabao Cup, with a well-worked team goal.
Captain Mark Noble, who collected the Man of the Match award for his efforts, picked up the ball in midfield as the Irons looked to gain the early upper hand, and spotted the run of Pablo Zabaleta.
Marginally offside, although this wasn’t picked up on by the officials, the veteran and ex-Manchester City man picked out a delightful low cross for Felipe Anderson to arrive with a perfectly-timed run and convert past David de Gea, at the near post.
It was the manner of the finish from the club-record summer signing that was so impressive, a flashy backheel flick, one that gave his team and the majority of the London Stadium faithful a major early boost, and momentum that would carry them through the entire match.
Hammers Deal Killer Blow At Perfect Time
Despite the visitors largely having the better of the play throughout the first half in Stratford, they couldn’t manage to find a way past Lukasz Fabianski and equalise, something they would be punished for and then some, just before the break, with our next Massive Moment.
In this case, the Hammers scored at the perfect time, in the 43rd-minute, dealing Mourinho’s men a killer blow, one that, crucially, they didn’t have enough time to respond to, before half-time.
If there was an element of fortune in the opener, with the offside decision, there was an even bigger slice of the luck for the second, bit they say you make your own luck, the hosts being rewarded for their excellent defensive performance and counter-attacking persistence.
This one wasn’t such a silky and free-flowing team move and was actually a Yarmolenko-forced own-goal. The Ukrainian cut inside from the left onto his preferred foot and got a shot off from just inside the area, Victor Lindelof coming across to apprehend him and deflecting the attempt.
Instead of following its course and missing the left-hand post, the shot left De Gea stranded and flew into the near top corner, sending a dumfounded London Stadium into delirium and putting Pellegrini’s men two to the good, in a commanding position halfway through.
Fabianski Heroics Keep Irons In Ascendency
Naturally, the second half would bring much more resistance from the away side, as they attempted to fight for their manager and fight to not slip to a second successive defeat in all competitions, this led to our third Massive Moment.
Of the three saves that Lukasz Fabianski had to make throughout the 90 minutes, this was by far the pick as the Pole continued to be the best of the club’s nine first-team signings during the summer transfer window.
The fabulous stop came about on 65 minutes from another deadly Ashley Young delivery, the winger having caused West Ham many problems, picking out the head of midfielder Marouane Fellaini.
The Belgian is a constant threat from crosses and set-pieces for the Red Devils and met the delivery with a powerful effort, forcing Fabianski down to his left to miraculously push the ball out and away from the immediate danger in the goalmouth.
The visiting players appealed for a goal, believing the ball had crossed the line, the referee checked his watch and it had done no such thing, reflecting, this save was of paramount importance, even if it wasn’t enough for Pellegrini’s team to keep the clean sheet.
Game On For United
The away team increasing the pressure by the minute, it was only a matter of time before they pulled a goal back and when they did on 71 minutes, it formed our fourth Massive Moment.
Up against a resolute defensive display from West Ham, the old trick of bringing a substitute on when they were taking a corner is what it would take for the Red Devils to find a way through.
While many in the stadium had their eyes on what would be exchanged between Paul Pogba and Mourinho as he left the field, the reshuffle of players in the middle gave Marcus Rashford, who had entered the field of play much earlier, an opportunity to wriggle free of his marker.
The England International made his way to the near post, getting in front of Noble to meet the ball with a volley, from the pinpoint delivery, which caught Fabianski off-guard and he couldn’t recover in time to keep it out.
At this point, it really looked like game on and that United were about to mount a comeback characteristic of a certain era in their history, the reasons why they weren’t able to lies in our fifth and final Massive Moment, once again, the visitors’ defending proving their Achilles heel.
Arnautovic Has His Definitive Say
What is the best way to respond to the opposition pulling a goal back and cutting your lead in half? Well, scoring another goal yourself, of course, and this is what West Ham did, almost instantly.
A mere three minutes later, the game was all but put to bed by the clinical-nature of Marko Arnautovic, who was returning from the knee problem that had kept him out of the draw with Chelsea and the cup drubbing of the League Two Silkmen.
Zabaleta, showing the football world that age is just a number with his performance, won the ball back in midfield and fed Noble, he looked up and spotted the terrific run of Arnautovic.
Once again, there were Manchester United complaints over the strong tackle of Zabaleta, but the officials weren’t interested, with Arnautovic, one-on-one with De Gea, slotting calmly past the Spaniard.
This strike completely wiped out the revival of the Red Devils and proved a real sucker punch, with Pellegrini’s men finally showing the kind of ruthlessness needed to win matches of this kind, comfortably seeing the encounter out for a vital three points.
So, now that all the Massive Moments from a magical afternoon, if you’re a West Ham fan, at London Stadium have been well and truly analysed, will we be looking back at yet more positive Massive Moments, come Saturday afternoon, after the Hammers have paid the Amex Stadium a league visit? Join us once again, then, to find out.