Marcus Rashford struck with almost the final kick of the game to bring Manchester United into the top four of the Premier League at West Ham’s expense with a 1-0 win on Saturday. United were distasteful as an attacking force at Old Trafford for 93 minutes, but found the breakthrough at death when all three of Ralf Rangnick’s substitutes came together when Anthony Martial and Edinson Cavani caught Rashford for a tap on the back post. The win lifts United one point above the Hammers and sees the Red Devils leap forward from Tottenham and Arsenal in the battle for Champions League football next season.
Rangnick has lost just one of his 10 games since temporarily taking the lead until the end of the season, but once again the result was more impressive than the German side’s performance.
Bruno Fernandes looked back at his best with two goals and two assists in the past week and the Portuguese almost opened the way with a fierce cross that narrowly avoided Cristiano Ronaldo at the most dangerous moment of the first half.
Alphonse Areola was sent off to target for West Ham in the absence of Lukasz Fabianski due to testing positive for coronavirus, but the Frenchman was forced to make just one serious save when he turned Fred’s driven shot behind early in the second half.
Fernandes dragged another try wide from the edge of the box as United struggled to the frustration of the 75,000 spectators.
However, Rangnick’s changes made all the difference.
Rashford has looked bereft of confidence in recent months, but his first goal since October in a 3-1 win over Brentford on Wednesday gave the England international a lift.
Rangnick claimed Anthony Martial had declined to be part of his squad before last weekend’s 2-2 draw at Aston Villa as he is looking to move at the club for more playing time.
The Frenchman publicly denied that accusation and got his first minutes under the interim boss when he was introduced along with Cavani in the final 10 minutes.
David de Gea was nearly grabbed by a long range shot from Declan Rice as the game went into stoppage time.
But instead of taking down a winner, West Ham was hit in the counter-attack with a punch.
Martial played in Cavani on the left side of the penalty area and the Uruguayan’s cross required just a tap from Rashford on the back post.
The wild celebrations survived a VAR check against Cavani for offside and there was barely time for West Ham to start in what could be a fatal blow to their outside hopes of reaching the Champions League for the first time.
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