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  • Writer's pictureBy Yann Tear at the London Stadium

Fabulous Hammers almost safe after rediscovering zest of last season to outfox Man United



West Ham (1) 1 Benrahma 27

Man United (0) 0

The winner may have been a bit freakish. The lead may only have been chiselled out after a troubling start. But boy what a win.


The Irons must surely be free of any relegation doubts after clawing their way to 37 points with three to play. More than that, they should now have clear minds going into Thursday night's Europa Conference semi-final against Alkmaar.


No need for any nagging thoughts about their domestic issues to lurk at the back of the mind.


Victory was secured courtesy of Said Benrahma's fleet-footed dash from halfway which left defenders trailing in his wake - and to the subsequent calamity from David de Gea, who allowed the final shot to slip past his weak hand and into the bottom right hand corner.


That vital moment was just what David Moyes' men needed to ignite their Coronation weekend fixture. It gave them the belief to go on and produce a scintillating second half of football which left them as worthy winners.


Whilst the Hammers began full of energy and intent, it was united who fashioned the openings ahead of that goal.


Marcus Rashford twice – including in the first lightning breakaway - Bruno Fernandes, Antony and Christian Eriksen all went close with rasping efforts only marginally off target.


Antony also clipped the outside of a post from distance. But by that time, at least, the Hammer had got their noses in front thanks to that de Gea blunder.


The first-half lead may have been lucky overall, but the lead might have been even greater, as both ref Peter Bankes and VAR official Stuart Atwell missed a clear handball from Victor Lindelof from a Benrahma cross which could so easily have triggered a penalty.


If the Irons were fortunate before the interval, they were nothing of the sort in the second half as they produced one of their best passages of the campaign - back to the team of last season which unsettled so many opponents.


Michail Antonio charged upfield with strength and power and it needed a yellow card trip from Aaron Wan Bissaka to halt his progress. The pace and pressing were of the highest order.


Declan Rice strode the midfield like a colossus and Benrahma almost fashioned another chance. Lucas Paqueta had one of his best outings for the Hammers.


And then there was the match winner - who tormented United throughout with his trickery down the left.


Tomas Soucek headed home from an offside position as the Irons went in search of that killer second goal but with it not coming, there was always the worry it might end badly, however well they might be playing.


Lukasz Fabianski did well to turn aside a shot from sub Anthony Martial as United applied late pressure after eight extra minutes had gone up on the injury time board because of lengthy treatment for Soucek at one stage.


But the hosts held on at an increasingly raucous London Stadium.


It seemed a trick of the mind that West Ham could ever have been in the relegation bunfight. Tonight they were simply excellent.


Hammers: (4-2-3-1) Fabianski – Kehrer, Ogbonna, Aguerd, Cresswell (Emerson 90) – Soucek, Rice – Bowen, Lucas Paqueta (Downes 90), Benrahma (Fornals 87) - Antonio (Johnson 90). Subs not used: Areola, Anang, Lanzini, Cornet, Ings


United: (4-3-3) De Gea – Warn-Bissaka (Dalot 88), Lindelof, Shaw, Malacia (Fred 88) - Eriksen (Sabitzer 74), Casemiro, Bruno Fernandes - Antony (Sancho 74), Weghorst (Martial 57), Rashford. Subs not used: Butland, Maguire, Williams, Garnacho

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