West Ham 2 Manchester United 0

Saturday 23 December 2023 14:29

Manchester United's pre-Christmas trip to the London Stadium ended in a disappointing 2-0 defeat to West Ham United in the Premier League.

The balance in an evenly contested affair tipped in favour of the hosts in the second half, with a quick-fire double setting them on their way to victory. 

Jared Bowen's persistence paid off for the opening goal, before Mohammed Kudus latched on to a loose ball in the middle of the park, eventually firing home into the bottom corner. 

Erik ten Hag's men continued to push until the final whistle but to no avail, as the Reds headed back to Manchester empty handed. 

Rasmus Hojlund puts the West Ham defence under pressure.
The opening stages at the London Stadium were tentative, each side trying to figure out the other, but it would be the Hammers who enjoyed the first spell of possession. Moyes’s side were quick to get the ball up the pitch, with their left-back Emerson providing an unlikely source for the first effort on target.

The defender attempted to curl home a shot from the edge of the box, forcing Onana to parry it away. Picked up by Lucas Paqueta, the home side attempted to carve out yet another opportunity, but James Ward-Prowse’s eventual effort blazed over the bar.

The Reds eventually began to get a foothold in the game, building out nicely from the back where Academy graduate Willy Kambwala was making his first-team debut alongside Jonny Evans, in the absence of four senior centre-backs due to injury and illness.

However, 30 minutes in, we had been unable to create any clear-cut chances on goal. Both Luke Shaw and Bruno Fernandes saw their crosses into the danger area gathered comfortably by West Ham goalkeeper Alphonse Areola.
After the half-hour mark, United seem to find our attacking groove with players linking up seamlessly. Antony had an attempt saved by the Hammers’s shot-stopper, before setting up team-mate Alejandro Garnacho for a close-range effort that was again halted by the Frenchman between the sticks.

Moments later, Jonny Evans provided a crucial interception at the back and the Reds were able to break away quickly with Garnacho almost forcing Paqueta to turn the ball into his own net, his block landing on top of the net. Kobbie Mainoo’s half-volley came close to wrong-footing Areola as it bounced just in front of him, and the keeper could only parry it wide.
Ten Hag’s men ended the half with the best move of the contest so far, as intricate play on the edge of the area allowed us to play in Antony. The Brazilian fizzed a dangerous ball across the face of goal, but neither Rasmus Hojlund nor Garnacho could provide the finishing touch for the Reds.
The second 45 starting in a much livelier manner than the first, with both sides looking for that breakthrough goal. Once again, it was West Ham who started better, as Willy Kambwala provided a crucial block. The Reds responded with an attack of our own, as Shaw stood the ball up towards the far post but although Fernandes met it, he could only watch on as his header sailed over the bar. 

Arguably the best chance of the game so far came in the approach to the hour mark, and it fell the way of the hosts. Ward-Prowse’s pin-point corner delivery found the head of an unmarked Bowen, who generated plenty of power on it as it flew towards goal before it was stopped acrobatically by Onana. 

After being denied another goalscoring opportunity by Kurt Zouma's interception, the Reds were on the back foot again and this time staring down the barrel of defeat. Bowen fired the Irons ahead with the first part of a quickfire double, as he latched onto Paqueta’s well-executed dink over the top, and persisted in forcing the ball over the line despite Onana getting a glove on the forward's initial effort.
Willy Kambwala on the ball during his senior debut.
Minutes later, Moyes’ side were two goals to the good after the in-form Muhammed Kudus doubled their tally. West Ham's no.14 was quick to react to a mistake in the middle of the park, driving towards goal before pulling his effort across Onana and into the bottom corner. 

Despite a late charge from the Reds to find a route back into the game, we were unable to create any clear-cut chances with West Ham defending resolutely. 

Ten Hag’s side will now switch focus to our next festive fixture, at home to Aston Villa on Boxing Day - Tuesday 26 December (20:00 GMT).
Luke Shaw drives his side up the pitch.

West Ham XI: Areola; Coufal, Zouma, Mavropanos, Emerson; Alvarez, Soucek, Ward-Prowse; Paqueta, Kudus (Johnson 90+6), Bowen (Fornals 87). 

Substitutes: Fabianski, Cresswell, Fornals, Ings, Ogbonna, Benrahma, Kehrer, Mubama. 

Goals: Bowen 73; Kudus 78. 

Bookings: Kudus 43; Paqueta 74. 

United XI: Onana; Wan-Bissaka, Evans, Kambwala (Reguilon 84), Shaw; Mianoo, McTominay; Antony (Pellistri 73), Fernandes, Garnacho (Eriksen 84); Hojlund (Rashford 57). 

Substitutes: Bayindir, Amrabat, Van de Beek, Mejbri, Bennett. 

Bookings: Evans 45; Fernandes 51.

match videos:

  • Gearing up for the Hammers Video

    Gearing up for the Hammers

    The Reds step up our preparations ahead of facing West Ham in the capital...

  • Why Kambwala starts Video

    Why Kambwala starts

    Erik ten Hag explains the selection of Academy centre-back Willy Kambwala, in his pitchside pre-match chat with MUTV...

  • 'It's taken a lot of people by surprise' Video

    'It's taken a lot of people by surprise'

    MUTV's Ben Thornley reacts to the news that young defender Willy Kambwala will make his senior Reds debut at West Ham...

  • United check in at West Ham Video

    United check in at West Ham

    Does our arrivals video give you any hints about today's line-up? Team news will be announced at 11:30 GMT...