West Ham ease to victory over dismal Manchester United
PUBLISHED: 16:09 22 September 2019 | UPDATED: 16:09 22 September 2019
PA Wire/PA Images
A goal in each half from Yarmolenko and Cresswell gives Hammers all three points
West Ham United 2 Manchester United 0
Forget the September showers that fell from the Stratford skies during most of this match because the sun is certainly shining on the Hammers right now.
A well-worked goal from Andriy Yarmolenko on the stroke of half-time put West Ham ahead against the Red Devils before recalled Aaron Cresswell's brilliant late free-kick gave Manuel Pellegrini's men a well-deserved victory that means they are now enjoying their best start to a season since leaving the famous old Boleyn Ground.
Unbeaten in six games in all competitions with four clean sheets in a row, the Hammers departed at the final whistle in fourth spot in the table, proudly boasting a tally of 11 points from their opening half-dozen Premier League matches.
Returning to home turf following Monday night's goalless draw against Aston Villa, Pellegrini had made two enforced changes as Cresswell and Pablo Fornals came in for the suspended Arthur Masuaku and injured Manuel Lanzini (toe).
With rain bucketing from the East End skies just before kick-off, the early exchanges were largely played out in midfield, where Angelo Ogbonna collected a yellow card as the quarter-hour mark approached, after taking out an escaping Andreas Pereira on the touchline.
United had beaten Kazakhstan outfit FC Astana in the Europa League on Thursday evening and, following his side's 1-0 victory, Olé Gunnar Solskjær made wholesale changes - with only Marcus Rashford and Nemanja Matić retaining their shirts - as his focus returned to the Premier League.
And it was Matić who let fly with the first shot of the afternoon but Łukasz Fabiański was well-placed to hold the 30-yarder as it steamed through the damp Stratford air, while at the other end, Yarmolenko's tamer effort was easily held by David De Gea.
Timely interventions by both Declan Rice and Issa Diop robbed Rashford, too, and with West Ham lacking any real intensity or purpose with the ball, the visitors were certainly looking more purposeful in possession.
Ten minutes before the break, though, they started to stir as Fornals cleverly flighted a reverse, left-wing free-kick back to the edge of the United area, where the unmarked Mark Noble drilled a volley through the pack but De Gea saved.
On 43 minutes, however, the Spanish 'keeper was powerless when the patient Noble held the ball up on the 18-yard line before laying it back to Anderson, who expertly spotting Yarmolenko's run into the area, invited the Ukrainian to side-step Harry Maguire before curling a low 12-yarder inside the base of De Gea's right-hand upright.
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Yarmolenko's timely, yet unexpected strike gave the Hammers an interval lead and United found themselves back out on the pitch long before West Ham appeared for the second half.
Within seconds of the restart, Pereira's deep low cross was somehow slid wide on the goal-line by Mata, who then found himself cautioned and United's afternoon took another turn for the worse, when Rashford hobbled away to be replaced by Jesse Lingard, on the hour.
With the United substitute still finding his feet, Anderson forced De Gea to save his angled 10-yarder with his feet before it was Fabianski's turn to steer Scott McTominay's shot aside for a corner that fell to Maguire, whose close-range screamer cannoned off the Polish stopper's knees.
Jack Wilshere then replaced Anderson, while Fred came on for Matić and Noble after was booked for a stretching lunge on Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Cresswell gave a warning of his intent, when he sent a rising 30-yard free-kick inches over the bar.
United looked far from finished, though, and the alert Fabiański raced from his line to deny Daniel James but as Lingard looked to pounce on the loose ball, Yarmolenko - of all people - was back in his own area to block.
But West Ham were equally threatening in the closing stages and, just with seven minutes remaining, Ashley Young was booked for tripping Noble 25 yards out and that foul proved even more costly, when Cresswell curled the consequent free-kick over both the United wall and the groping De Gea to seal the stunning victory that sends the Hammers soaring up that table.
HAMMERS: Fabianski, Fredericks (Zabaleta 80), Cresswell, Diop, Ogbonna, Rice, Noble, Yarmolenko (Snodgrass 90+1), Fornals, Anderson (Wilshere 70), Haller. Unused subs: Roberto, Balbuena, Sánchez, Ajeti.
RED DEVILS: De Gea, Lindelöf, Wan-Bissaka, Maguire, Young, McTominay, Matić (Fred 71), Mata (Gomes 81), James, Pereira, Rashford (Lingard 60). Unused subs: Romero, Rojo, Tuanzebe, Chong.
Bookings: Ogbonna (14), Mata (47), Noble (74), Young (83).
Referee: Anthony Taylor