Scroll to Photostream above left for match photos, click on the statistics tab for match stats; manager reaction below.
Manchester United moved to within six points of claiming their 13th Barclays Premier League title after twice coming from behind to share a 2-2 draw against an obdurate West Ham United at Upton Park.
The nature of the result was befitting given United’s penchant for having to fight back from losing positions this season.
They were sluggish at the start of the game and fell behind to a Ricardo Vaz Te header before Antonio Valencia’s first goal of the season levelled. A wonderful strike from Mohamed Diame saw the Hammers re-establish their lead in the second half, but United again showed their spirit as Van Persie equalised with 13 minutes remaining.
The salvaged draw means United have now claimed 28 points from losing positions in the Barclays Premier League this season and leaves West Ham without a league victory over them since 2007.
The hosts started the game brightly and, with the visitors toiling, it was Vaz Te who opened the scoring after 17 minutes, for a goal that owed much to the driving force of Diame.
The Senegal international picked the ball up in his own half after another United attack broke down and charged over the halfway line before picking out Matt Jarvis on the left flank. Jarvis skipped past Rio Ferdinand with ease before crossing to the back post, where Carroll knocked the ball down to the onrushing Vaz Te, who headed past David De Gea from close range.
The visitors responded well to falling a goal behind, as they have done on so many occasions this season, and soon started to control the play. Their equaliser came just after the half-hour mark following some fine work by Shinji Kagawa.
The move started with Van Persie drifting out to the left wing and collecting the ball before playing in the Japan international. Kagawa then showed great composure to dummy his marker and time his pass across goal to Valencia, who was left with the simple task of tapping into an empty net.
The league leaders flew out of the traps at the start of the second half and had a great chance to take the lead within the opening minute. Rooney lofted a ball in to Van Persie, whose header back into the danger area was just behind Phil Jones and the former Blackburn man could not make meaningful contact despite finding himself free in front of goal.
The battle between Carroll and De Gea continued as the Spanish goalkeeper collected a cross despite close attention from the forward, which ultimately saw the Liverpool loanee cautioned. He almost responded with a goal but his fierce long-range strike hit the side netting of De Gea’s goal.
West Ham’s second goal came soon after as Vaz Te’s clever flick and Guy Demel’s pass into Diame found the midfielder in possession just outside United’s area. Diame turned past Rooney and arrowed a low effort past De Gea.
Rooney came close to drawing the Red Devils level for a second time after latching on to Van Persie’s low corner. His shot was not dealt with by Jussi Jaaskelainen, who was grateful to Gary O’Neil for being in the right position on the line to hook the ball clear.
Jaaskelainen did not need any help to keep out United’s next effort as he tipped Van Persie’s bullet header behind for a corner as United pressed for a second equaliser.
That goal came on 77 minutes when Kagawa cut inside before curling an effort that came back off the post and into the path of Van Persie, who gleefully pounced to score his 21st Barclays Premier League goal of the season.
West Ham’s Matthew Taylor had the best chance to win the game for either side when he latched onto a mistake from Rio Ferdinand in injury time. But the substitute could not keep his calm and hammered his ambitious long shot high and wide.
West Ham manager Sam Allardyce: "We have given a great account of ourselves I am proud of every one of our players. It shows we are improving and learning to live at this level of football against probably the best team in the Premier League this season.
"We gave them a hell of a game and got a hell of a result. We probably will be safe with 39 points. We've been really good at home all season and some of the performances the fans have really appreciated."
Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson: "We had to stand up to a lot, we went down twice but we kept going. We played like champions tonight. It was magnificent in terms of determination and courage to play. It's one more game away... that's five left - three at home and two away. We're determined to win, we don't like losing and they showed that tonight again."
|20 Apr 2013||v Wigan (H)|
|27 Apr 2013||v Man City (A)|
|04 May 2013||v Newcastle (H)|
|12 May 2013||v Everton (A)|
|19 May 2013||v Reading (H)|
|14 Dec 2013||v West Ham (H)|