The Emirates FA Cup Quarter-Final Replay
West Ham United vs. Manchester United
Venue: The Boleyn Ground at Upton Park
Date: Wednesday, 13 April 2016
Kick-off: 19:00 BST
Manchester United booked their place into the last four of this season’s FA Cup with a fantastic 2-1 victory away at West Ham United.
In the last ever cup tie to be played at the Boleyn Ground, Marcus Rashford’s sublime goal and Marouane Fellaini’s knee gave the visitors a 2-0 cushion within 22 minutes of the restart.
Despite James Tomkins pulling one back for the hosts and the expected onslaught that followed, United held on to confirm their date with Everton in the semi-final on Saturday week.
Inside the electric atmosphere that Upton Park always generates, Enner Valencia saw a tame shot held after finding space, before Dimitri Payet’s free-kick was also held after he attempted to catch David De Gea out at his near post.
Finding a way back into proceedings, Fellaini’s break forward saw him play in Rashford whose shot deflected wide, although Anthony Martial would have been the better option for Fellaini over to his left.
Fellaini himself then saw an effort tipped over with a fine reaction save by Darren Randolph after Jesse Lingard had played in the Belgian, with Randolph’s left foot then denying Lingard after neat play from Rashford allowed him to play in his teammate.
The ball dropped kindly for Michael Carrick to volley just wide on his weaker foot, as half-time brought to a close an entertaining and fairly even first half, with United perhaps shading proceedings at that point.
An end-to-end contest continued after half-time with Lingard striking the stanchion behind the goal and Cheikhou Kouyate seeing a low effort held.
Then came the opening goal with Michail Antonio’s mistake allowing Martial to slot in Rashford, whose quick feet toyed with the West Ham backline before curling an outrageous finish into the top corner with the ball just clipping the underside of the bar on its way through.
Looking for a response, Kouyate’s first time drive was always rising as Antonio’s ambitious volley was held.
Failing to capitalise on this, the Hammers were punished when Daley Blind’s cross was knocked down by Fellaini to Lingard, whose deep cross found Martial, and the Frenchman’s shot fell to Fellaini who guided the ball home via his left knee.
Instead of pursuing a killer third goal, United invited West Ham onto them, with De Gea somehow denying Antonio at the near post, but the resulting corner from Payet saw Andy Carroll head the ball back across goal, and the brave Tomkins stuck his head in to half the deficit.
Another header, this time from Carroll, fell over from Aaron Cresswell’s cross, as De Gea saved from Kouyate and then Carroll himself, with Kouyate’s looping header from the rebound finding the back of the net, but it was correctly disallowed for offside.
In similar territory to the one he scored at Old Trafford in the reverse fixture a month ago, Payet lined up another free-kick special, only for it to deflect off the wall and behind, as Louis van Gaal’s side held onto the victory.
Cup ties are all about the result, but United thoroughly deserved this win, silencing the usually exuberant home crowd, keeping the ball well when needed and attacking with purpose when they could.
Rashford’s stock continues to grow with another fine goal, taking his tally to 6 goals in 11 games since breaking into the first team.
This is what United are all about, and they keep alive their pursuit of a trophy, with the Everton semi-final kicking off at 5:15pm on Saturday 23 April.
Before then, two home fixtures fall in the league at Old Trafford, with Aston Villa the visitors this Saturday at 3pm, and fellow FA Cup semi-finalists Crystal Palace arriving this time next week for an 8pm start.
Manchester United: De Gea; Fosu-Mensah, Smalling, Blind, Rojo (Valencia 68); Carrick; Lingard, Fellaini, Herrera (Schneiderlin 76), Martial; Rashford (Rooney 90).
Subs: Romero, Young, Valencia, Schneiderlin, Mata, Memphis, Rooney.
Manager: Louis van Gaal
West Ham: Randolph; Antonio, Tomkins, Ogbonna, Cresswell; Noble, Kouyate; Valencia (Moses 62), Lanzini (Emenike 74), Payet; Carroll.
Subs: Adrian, Collins, Hendrie, Oxford, Obiang, Moses, Emenike.
Manager: Slaven Bilic