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Hammers revival shocks Manchester United

Hammers revival shocks Manchester United

Matthew Upson gave Manchester United an early new year's hangover as his goal handed West Ham a dramatic 2-1 win on Saturday.
The England center-half thumped in a glorious header with just nine minutes remaining at Upton Park to give United's English Premier League title bandwagon an unwelcome jolt.
Sir Alex Ferguson's side appeared certain to cement their position at the top of the table after Cristiano Ronaldo's 13th-minute opener but once the Portuguese missed a 65th-minute penalty, reigning champions United crumbled.
Anton Ferdinand - returning to action following a spate of injury problems and his acquittal on a charge of causing actual bodily harm - nodded in a deserved equalizer and the stage was set for Upson's thrilling winner.
Defeat left United just a point in front of Arsenal ahead of th Gunners' late kick-off game with Everton.
This appeared the sort of game to have United's vast sweep of attacking talent smacking their lips in anticipation.
West Ham's abysmal home form - this was only their third win in 10 league matches at Upton Park this season - has stymied a push for a top-six finish.
Yet there is something about United which seems to bring out the best in West Ham. The east Londoners defeated Ferguson's side twice last season - once in Alan Curbishley's first game in charge and again, crucially, in the final match of the season - and they began this latest spat in purposeful fashion.
United's defense was panicking in the first 60 seconds when Nolberto Solano almost converted Freddie Ljungberg's center and, in the eighth minute, the hosts should have forged ahead.
Hayden Mullins broke clear in United's left-hand channel and crashed a fierce shot against the woodwork, with Mark Noble blazing over on the rebound.
Such chances have to be taken against a side of United's polish. And if West Ham needed proof, it was supplied in devastating fashion five minutes later. A lightning-quick break involving Carlos Tevez and Louis Saha ended with the Frenchman setting Ryan Giggs clear on the left.
The Welshman dinked a delicious cross to the near post, where Ronaldo nodded firmly home.
That might have been the cue for West Ham to disintegrate, but falling behind merely seemed to stiffen their resistance. The ever-inventive Solano almost dragged his side back to parity with a 25-yard lob which drew a fine save from Tomasz Kuszcak, while Carlton Cole should have done better than head tamely over from Noble's pinpoint cross.
United, hanging on grimly, were grateful for the half-time whistle but the interval did little to clear their heads. West Ham continued to press hungrily but then, in the 65th minute, came the moment that turned the game.
After Jonathan Spector had inexplicably handled Ronaldo's searching pass, United were handed a gift-wrapped penalty. Ronaldo duly swaggered forward to supply the finishing touch but, for once, the winger's technique deserted him: his spot-kick was dragged horribly wide.
It was a costly error. Upton Park reveled in the Portuguese's misery and suddenly West Ham scented an unlikely opportunity and, gradually, they began to pen back their illustrious guests.
Their endeavor was rewarded in the 77th minute. Noble swung over a right-sided corner with just enough pace and bend to deceive United's defense and Ferdinand - who had been introduced as a second-half substitute - headed powerfully beyond Kuszczak.
That was dramatic enough but there was still time for another extraordinary twist. With nine minutes left and Upton Park baying for blood, Patrice Evra conceded a needless free-kick. Noble delivered yet another devilish cross and Upson, timing his jump to perfection, nodded brilliantly into the top corner.


Updated : 2021-05-13 14:05 GMT+08:00