By Juan Aguerrevere
Saturday’s late game almost derailed Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's goal of finishing the season with a spot in the Champions League. Manuel Pellegrini's men outplayed a Manchester United just like in their first fixture back in September.
Felipe Anderson's early goal was disallowed even though Diogo Dalot appeared to have kept Anderson onside. Minutes after, Graham Scott pointed to the Hammer's penalty spot after Robert Snodgrass's poor tackle on Juan Mata. Snodgrass and other West Ham players argued the foul took place outside the box, but to no avail. United's penalty taker, Paul Pogba, decided against his signature penalty run-up, but his shot beat West Ham goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski for first goal of the afternoon anyway.
Five minutes into the second phase, a bad giveaway by normally impeccable David de Gea led to a Manuel Lanzini cross that found Anderson lurking at the back post. Anderson punished de Gea and Marcos Rojo, who had carelessly left the Brazilian open on the back-post.
Marcus Rashford was denied a goal by Fabianski after Chris Smalling did his best Joel Matip impression.
Pellegrini’s decision to bring on Michail Antonio made an instant impact on the game. His sleek run and powerful left-footed attempt struck the crossbar. And it took an astonishing save from de Gea to deny Antonio a second time.
But with close to ten minutes remaining, Anthony Martial was sent through by a cutting pass from Pogba. West Ham defender Ryan Fredericks hauled Martial down in a clear goal scoring opportunity inside the box. Scott had no choice but to point to the spot for the second time this game. Once again, Paul Pogba dismissed his trademark run-up and beat Fabianski.
Manchester United carries on with its journey for a top-4 end.
Juan is a senior at the University of Florida. He is an aspiring sports writer, analyst, and commentator.