How Ole's super-subs made the difference in London

Sunday 19 September 2021 18:29

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was renowned as a blisteringly effective substitute during his own glittering playing career – and his knack for turning a game from the bench came to the fore once more in United's dramatic 2-1 win over West Ham.

For much of Sunday afternoon's game at the London Stadium, it appeared the Reds would have to settle for a somewhat frustrating 1-1 draw.

But we eventually found our way to three vital points, thanks to a late winner.
And the manager ultimately deserves much of the credit for that 89th-minute breakthrough, which was stitched together by two of his three second-half substitutes.
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The Reds were attacking down the left, with just over a minute of normal time remaining, when Nemanja Matic – who had entered the fray just a minute earlier – threaded a smart pass into the area to the feet of Jesse Lingard – who had been introduced in the the 73rd minute.
The former West Ham loanee cut inside to create a yard of space and then fired an unerring shot into Lukasz Fabianski's top left-hand corner, to net his second goal of the Premier League season.
It was a glorious moment for Lingard, who was devastated to make the mistake which cost us a point against Young Boys in our Champions League opener earlier this week.
The former Academy star is fighting to claim a more regular place in the starting XI, and has refused to let his head drop despite Tuesday's events.  And what better way to make it up to his colleagues and his manager than by producing the magical piece of skill that earned us an important Premier League win?
But a big share of the praise must also go to Solskjaer, who knew his side needed inspiration, and selected just the right players to provide it.

“As I’ve said, I’m very happy with the squad,” explained the boss post-match. “I have got to be good at rotating and finding the right moment to rest players, as you know it’s going to be a long and hard season. I’m so happy for Jadon [Sancho] and Jesse, for impacting the game like they did, and I felt Nemanja also played a part with that pass in to Jesse.”
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Some supporters may have questioned the value of sending on Matic so late in the game, when chasing a winner was the only thought in everyone's mind.
After all, the Serbian is often tagged – perhaps unfairly, for someone with such technical ability – as a "defensive" midfielder.
But Ole and his staff are well aware that there are few better when it comes to cooking up a laser-guided pass from deep than Nemanja, and the 33-year-old found exactly that to give Jesse the space he needed.
Ole's substitutions also compared favourably with West Ham's.
Despite Lingard's late heroics, the three points might have been denied to us if Mark Noble had been able to convert a 95th-minute penalty.
Luke Shaw was adjudged to have handled Andriy Yarmolenko's cross from the right side of the United box, with just seconds remaining.
Referee Martin Atkinson initially waved play on, but was then called over to the pitchside monitor by VAR, and eventually decided to overturn his original decision.
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At that point, Hammers manager David Moyes opted to introduce a final substitute: West Ham legend – and penalty expert – Noble, who immediately claimed the ball and headed towards the spot.
With the Irons' regular penalty-taker Michail Antonio suspended, Noble was deemed their second-most reliable specialist - he had scored 10 in succession in the division.
But David De Gea guessed correctly to repel Noble's shot, as a game that was ultimately decided by Ole's astute substitutions came to the most dramatic of climaxes.