West Ham leaves Old Trafford with a point, sets up epic Boleyn send-off
West Ham produced yet another impressively powerful performance against Manchester United and may think themselves unlucky to only come away from Old Trafford with a 1-1 draw in an enthralling sixth Round FA cup tie.
Louis van Gaal's side have Anthony Martial to thank for the 82nd minute leveller that takes the tie back to Upton Park.
It was the presence of Bastian Schweinsteiger that eventually allowed a lacklustre home side back into the tie; the 76th minute substitute for Marouane Fellaini gave the Reds a bit more urgency in the closing stages .
In a match with a lot of good approach play but few chances, it was Dimitri Payet -- who else? ---who seemed to have given the Hammers' the win. The Frenchman's 64th minute free kick was just exquisite, curling into the only foot of space that David de Gea couldn't reach. Payet was a constant menace to the home side, providing the subtle skills to match the battling energy of Mark Noble and Cheikhou Kouyate.
Before the break, Manchester United failed to register a shot on target and both Emmanuel Emenike and Andy Carroll will be rueing a couple of half-chances early on that could have put the home side on the back foot. After Payet scored though, it looked as if the Hammers had enough to hold out for the win, although neither players nor fans will mind taking this match back to the Boleyn.
The replay will now definitely be the last ever cup-tie to be played at the famous old ground -- the East End will be in full voice for the occasion.
Player ratings (1-10; 10=best; players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating):
GK Darren Randolph, 7 -- A more-than-able deputy for Adrian, Randolph did nothing wrong and could not be blamed for the goal. There's even a suggestion he got an unfair shove from Schweinsteiger as Anthony Martial scored.
DF Michail Antonio, 7 -- Another top quality display, confident going forward or in defence.
DF Winston Reid, 6 -- Recovered remarkably well from a very early booking, but the pace got to Reid who had only just returned from a spell out with injury. Was replaced by Obiang after 61 minutes as Bilic reshuffled his defence.
DF Angelo Ogbonna, 7 -- Solid throughout, the Italian is now viewed as a vital part of the Hammers' defence.
DF Aaron Cresswell, 8 -- Superb both defensively and on the counter attack, Cresswell must surely be in the England frame now.
MF Cheikhou Kouyate, 8 -- It doesn't matter where the Senegalese international plays, he is always powerful and full of running. He did a job both in midfield and centre-back again and never looked fazed.
MF Mark Noble, 8 -- Another battling display, West Ham's current form seems to fit the captain, who looks less encumbered with every match.
MF Manuel Lanzini, 5 -- Still short of the extra skills he was showing before his injury, Lanzini nevertheless can always be counted on to hold the ball well.
MF Dimitri Payet, 8 -- Another free kick and, once again, all West Ham fans knew exactly where it would go. Perhaps Manchester United knew too, but they seemed incapable of stopping it, even so. The French international looks so dangerous on the break that even when he does nothing, he takes two men out of the game.
FW Emmanuel Emenike, 7 -- Had a good early opportunity but was generally quiet after that. No surprise when the Nigerian was replaced by Diafra Sakho just after the hour mark.
FW Andy Carroll, 7 -- Provided some excellent link-up play but was wasteful with two early opportunities.
FW Diafra Sakho, 6 -- Never managed to get fully into the game after he had replaced Emenike.
MF Pedro Obiang, 6 -- Replaced the tiring Reid, Obiang slipped comfortably into the midfield in that quiet way of his.
Enner Valencia, N/R -- A substitute for Andy Carroll on 82 minutes as Slaven Bilic attempted to use the speed of the Ecuadorian as a counter to Manchester United pouring forward in search of an equaliser. It looked a good ploy until the home side equalised a minute after Valencia came on; his input was then a bit limited.
Peter Thorne, aka Billy Blagg (@BillyBlaggEsq), is the author of a regular column at WestHamOnline.net and the East London Guardian.