EPL

Manchester United 1-0 West Ham: Dawson own goal lifts Red Devils back into second

By Sports Desk March 14, 2021

Manchester United battled to a 1-0 win over West Ham on Sunday to move back into second place in the Premier League.

A second-half own goal from Craig Dawson proved to be the difference as Old Trafford as David Moyes suffered a third defeat in three meetings with his old club this season.

They were three hard-won points for the Red Devils, who now have a more comfortable cushion to the Hammers in fifth, as they completed a league double over West Ham for the first time since Moyes' days in charge in 2013-14.

Marcus Rashford, a surprising starter after recovering from an ankle problem, should have scored 25 minutes in but failed to make clean contact with a header from Mason Greenwood's cross.

It was 37 minutes in until the first effort on target, Greenwood curling a strike towards the bottom-left corner that was expertly tipped away by Lukasz Fabianski, with the Hammers becoming the first team since Swansea City in March 2018 to fail to attempt a shot in the first half of a league game against the Red Devils.

The breakthrough came eight minutes into the second half, the ball flying past Fabianski off the head of Dawson after Scott McTominay had flicked on Bruno Fernandes' corner.

Fabianski made another fine one-handed stop to keep out a Fernandes strike from the edge of the box, and Greenwood blasted a shot off the base of the post after a fast break when the goalkeeper was beaten.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men conceded a 92nd-minute equaliser to Milan in their last game, but this time they held firm in the closing stages.

 

What does it mean? United edge back into second

The win moved United back above Leicester City, who had earlier thrashed Sheffield United 5-0, and also means they are nine points clear of West Ham.

With nine games to go, the 14-point gap to leaders Manchester City appears too great, but Solskjaer's men are in a good position for what is proving a fiercely contested battle for the top four.

Maguire stands tall

When West Ham at last made some concerted attacking moves in the second half, United captain Harry Maguire was resolute against Michail Antonio and Tomas Soucek.

He made a team-high seven clearances, won back the ball eight times and made a fine block to deny a fierce Jarrod Bowen strike.

Red Devils still too timid in attack

This was the fifth time in the past six games in all competitions that United failed to score in the first half, the exception being that early Fernandes penalty in the derby win at City.

Breaking down defences is something of a recurring problem for Solskjaer and it could be a concern when they head to Milan on Thursday needing to score a goal to prevent a European exit.

What's next?

United's final two games before the international break are a Europa League trip to Milan on Thursday and an FA Cup quarter-final at Leicester City next Sunday. West Ham have a week to prepare for the league visit of Arsenal.

Related items

  • Kulusevski credits Conte for inspiring transformation after Juventus struggles Kulusevski credits Conte for inspiring transformation after Juventus struggles

    Dejan Kulusevski believes Antonio Conte's coaching style has been critical in his personal improvement at Tottenham after stagnating with Massimiliano Allegri's Juventus.

    Kulusevski rose to prominence during the 2019-20 season when on loan at Parma from Atalanta, with his form in the first half of that campaign persuading Juve to spend €35million on him.

    Although he played 55 Serie A games for the Bianconeri after linking up with them ahead of the 2020-21 campaign, Kulusevski struggled to find the same prominence and consistency he enjoyed at Parma.

    Spurs struck a deal in January to take the Sweden international on loan for 18 months, and the agreement will become permanent for £29.2m (€32.6m) if certain sporting criteria are met.

    Kulusevski quickly made an impression – from the date of his signing until the end of the season, no player registered more assists than his eight in the Premier League, while Kevin De Bruyne (17), Son Heung-min (20) and Harry Kane (21) were the only three individuals to tally more goal involvements than the Swede's 13 over the same period.

    Similarly, his three assists this season is third to only De Bruyne (six) and Bukayo Saka (four) – he is finding his feet, and he does not think he could have found such comfort had he stayed at Juventus.

    "In football sometimes things simply go wrong. I have not changed anything about myself in recent months: mentally I went always to go on the pitch and gave my best.

    "At Juve, however, it didn't work beyond what I tried to do. I didn't feel great for so many different reasons and when you realise that things are not right, then it's difficult to reverse course by staying in the same environment.

    "So, the choice to leave Italy was the best I could have made in that situation.

    "In England I am great, everything is better than in Turin, both on and off the pitch. As I said, now I really always want to play football."

    Kulusevski has no doubt what the key difference is: Conte.

    While he did not want to disparage Allegri, Kulusevski feels he has reacted positively to Conte's demands, which have in turn got the best out of him.

    Asked if there was a big difference between Allegri and Conte, the winger said: "Honestly, yes.

    "I don't want to say that one is better than the other, because I have great respect for both Allegri and Conte and both have won a lot in their careers, but the job and the ideas of ​​football are completely different.

    "At Tottenham, you struggle a lot more in the gym and you can see the results. I can say that from Juve to Spurs, the world changed for me.

    "I have never met in my life, even outside of football, a motivated person like Antonio Conte. When he speaks to you, he enters your heart by force.

    "At Tottenham my body changed – mainly thanks to the exercises in the gym – in no time. We work a lot every day and better than I did in Italy.

    "I love how we train in London and for sure the credit goes to our coach: I'm very happy to play for him."

  • Lamar's 2022 form 'a natural next step' – Harbaugh Lamar's 2022 form 'a natural next step' – Harbaugh

    Lamar Jackson's sensational start to the 2022 season is "a natural next step", according to Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh, who always believed the quarterback could be "everything he is".

    The Ravens improved to 2-1 with a 37-26 win over the New England Patriots on Sunday, in which Jackson threw four touchdown passes and rushed for 107 yards and a further score.

    The fifth-year QB became only the second player in NFL history with at least four TD passes, 100 rushing yards and a rushing TD in a game after the Philadelphia Eagles' Randall Cunningham – also against the Patriots – in Week 9 of the 1990 season.

    But Jackson also had three TD passes and 100 rushing yards in Week 2 against the Miami Dolphins.

    Only seven other QBs (including Cunningham) have previously enjoyed such a performance, and none of them have done so more than once. Jackson has achieved that feat in consecutive games and four times across his career.

    Surely a contender again this year, Jackson was the MVP in 2019 when he led the league in passing TDs (36), as he does now (10).

    The failure to agree a new Ravens contract in the offseason would likely have made Jackson more determined to bounce back from an injury-hit 2021, but Harbaugh has never doubted his star man.

    "No one has to tell me about Lamar Jackson," the Baltimore coach said.

    "I believe in him. I love him. I just believed him the first day we drafted him, the first day we talked about drafting him. I felt like he could be everything he is.

    "I just think it's a natural next step in terms of like finding his rhythm during the week, what he's looking at, how he studies defenses, how he breaks defenses down.

    "It's not a lightbulb thing; it's an evolution of studying the game that you see quarterbacks go through."

    Jackson offered his own take on his development, adding: "I'd just say [it is down to] maturity, just because of my age, just knowing the game of football just basically inside out.

    "You've just got to stay locked in. That's probably the thing, just being locked in no matter what's going on during the game."

  • Maldini confident Leao wants Milan renewal Maldini confident Leao wants Milan renewal

    Milan technical director Paolo Maldini is confident Rafael Leao wants to sign a new contract with the Serie A champions.

    Leao joined Milan three years ago in a €35million deal that reportedly also includes a 20 per cent sell-on clause.

    He made only 12 Serie A starts in his first season, but that increased to 22 the following campaign and then reached 31 last term as Milan won the title.

    Leao played a crucial role in Milan winning a first Scudetto since 2011, scoring 11 goals and setting up another eight – his 19 goal involvements was five more than anyone else for the Rossoneri, while only Theo Hernandez (51) laid on more chances than the Portugal international (45).

    The forward's improved productivity has unsurprisingly seen links to other clubs emerge, with Chelsea reportedly keen on him.

    But Maldini is optimistic about extending Leao's contract beyond its current expiry in 2024, despite a dispute with former club Sporting CP – whom the player reportedly owes €16.5m after unilaterally terminating his contract in 2018 – threatening to cause a distraction.

    "Leao has a difficult situation deriving from the move to Lille, this is affecting him a lot and has meant that our dialogues have often changed," Maldini told Gazzetta dello Sport.

    "But Rafa is grateful to us, and I'm interested in what he tells us. He understands that the path in the coming years must be at Milan, he understands it and tells us [this].

    "Then there will be a negotiation, but we know that strong players must be paid their worth. If the team continues to grow, Leao will have everything to compete to the fullest.

    "But of course, there is no non-transferable [player] for all the teams in the world."

    Maldini was then asked if he was confident some form of arrangement could be found with Leao and Sporting, as the player reportedly wants Milan to help fund any future payments to the Primeira Liga side.

    "Yes, with [Leao's contract], yes [but] we have nothing to do with Sporting."

    Leao has already scored three times in six Serie A appearances this season, with Milan sitting fifth and three points off the summit after seven matches.

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.