Manchester United returned to successful ways in the Premier League with a 1-0 win over West Ham at Old Trafford this evening.
Erik ten Hag’s men leapfrogged Chelsea into fifth place after seeing today’s contest decided by a landmark Marcus Rashford goal. Having already netted on three occasions in this season’s Premier League, the 24-year-old forward had blanked in each of his previous five appearances, only finishing two of those contests. With three more goals scored in Europe, the former academy graduate stood on the precipice of joining an exclusive club, which he ultimately broke into.
💯 A United centurion.
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) October 30, 2022
Starting in his usual wide-left role Rashford made his intentions known early, attempting three shots on goal before putting the hosts in front, towering over Thilo Kehrer he powerfully nodded Christian Eriksen’s delicious cross home. “There’s a real intent in Rashford’s game in this first half. His confidence is back. It wasn’t so long ago people were saying he should be sold,” Gary Neville exclaimed on commentary.
“This is Cristiano Ronaldo heading form. I don’t see Rashford do that too many times. But he’s got one of the best headers in the world to watch every day in training and that was just like him. I love goals like that!” Rashford, consequently, became the 22nd player to score 100 goals for Manchester United and the first to reach that total since Wayne Rooney in 2009. However, this milestone was special as Rashford came up through the ranks, subsequently following in the footsteps of seven former academy graduates: Sir Bobby Charlton (249 goals), Dennis Viollet, George Best (both 179), Ryan Giggs (168), Mark Hughes (163), Paul Scholes (155), Stan Pearson (148).
It only took him 318 games, which is 208 more than Dennis Law needed, the former Ballon d’Or recipient still remains the standard by which United forwards are measured against. Rashford could have easily filled his boots, and the same for those around him in red shirts, but West Ham stood resolute to suffer only a second defeat in six league outings. United attempted no fewer than 13 shots, albeit six were on target, whereas David de Gea only needed to make four saves including back-to-back spectacular stops to deny Michail Antonio and then Kurt Zouma before Antonio pulled off his shot from the edge of the box, the Jamaican international was denied at the back post by Diogo Dalot who in the words of Neville gave “an absolute lesson in back post defending from a right back” and the Sky Sports pundit should know given he made that position his own.
Diogo Dalot's game by numbers vs. West Ham:
100% aerial duels won
100% long ball accuracy
7 duels won
5 x possession won
4 chances created
He was fantastic. 👏👏 pic.twitter.com/kpb4P4rq46
— Squawka (@Squawka) October 30, 2022
De Gea wasn’t done yet, denying Declan Rice very late on, another preposterous save from the much-maligned Spanish shot-stopper. United’s backline ultimately saw them across the line. Aside from their goalkeeper and Dalot, there was another commanding performance from Lisandro Martinez while a returning Harry Maguire at least silenced his critics. That valued clean sheet — it is now eight hours since United last conceded a goal at Old Trafford — and 1-0 success means for the first time in the Premier League this season, the Red Devils will end a day in the table with a positive goal difference (+1).