Manchester United left it late to clinch all three points against West Ham.
The tie was fairly balanced until stoppage time, as both defences stood tall to counter threats, and ensure a comfortable afternoon for their goalkeepers. Until their late winner, United only had managed two shots on target, while David de Gea had to only neutralise West Ham’s shot towards his goal once.
As the game went into added time, David Moyes’ men sat deep, seemingly happy with a point away from home. But Marcus Rashford had different ideas, as he arrived late at the back post to hammer Edinson Cavani’s ball into the back of the net to seal a dramatic victory in front of the Stretford End.
Here are three things we learned from the home side’s last-minute 1-0 win.
1. Captain Returns
Harry Maguire lead his side to a clean sheet as he returned to the starting XI. Apart from his challenge on Jarrod Bowen, that saw him getting booked, the skipper was flawless defensively and was also United’s most progressive player with the ball. No player completed more passes into the final third than him.
Maguire also complemented Raphael Varane well, and allowed the former Real Madrid centre-back to defend from his preferred right hand side, making a good case to keep his place when Victor Lindelof returns.
2. Successful Audition
Declan Rice was the youngest midfielder on the pitch, yet looked the most complete and composed man in the middle of the park.
United’s midfield didn’t do much wrong out of possession, but Rice was head and shoulders above in possession, completing 100% of his long passes and dribbles to create something for the visitors.
The 23-year-old passed his audition with flying colours, and no matter who takes charge of United after Ralf Rangnick, Rice should be representing the hosts at Old Trafford come next season.
3. More Than Just Three Points
This was a crucial result for United, as they overtook West Ham into fourth place and go into the international break on a high. Their defensive performance, best under Rangnick to date, will give the coaching staff something to build on.
Further, both Rashford and Anthony Martial will take encouragement from their exciting cameo appearances. In particular, the way the Frenchman held the ball in the final third showed he can offer something different to the side.
If he remains at the club post the international break, the 26-year-old can certainly push for a place in the starting XI.