Second-half flurry sends Man United into top-4

Manchester United rallied from a first-half deficit to beat West Ham United 3-1 with a flurry of classy goals that saw them move into fourth place in the Premier League on Saturday at the London Stadium.

Second-half goals from Paul Pogba, Mason Greenwood and Marcus Rashford were more than enough to overturn Jarrod Bowen’s goal in the opening 45 minutes for their fifth win in a row away from home — all of which Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side had conceded first to the opposition.

After the match Rashford said: “We need to stop doing that [letting teams score first]. If we keep more clean sheets we will definitely win more games. It is good that we showed spirit, but ideally we don’t want to be conceding.”

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The game marked the return of fans to a Premier League game for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic brought world football to a halt last March, with 2,000 supporters allowed inside the stadium.

“It is something the game has missed [fans being back in stadiums],” Rashford said. “It is what makes it special. It is a great feeling to have fans back.”

West Ham looked to have gone ahead inside 10 minutes through a Bowen strike after a sloppy giveaway from Anthony Martial, but the linesman’s flag went up on the play and the goal was chalked off.

The hosts were the better side throughout the opening half and were unlucky to not go ahead twice as Pablo Fornals headed a Bowen cross into the side netting before his toe poke from close range trickled back off the post.

West Ham took a deserved lead from a corner kick before half-time when Pablo Fornals met Declan Rice’s flicked-on header at the back post to stake his side to a 1-0 lead at the break.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had left Rashford and Bruno Fernandes on the bench ahead of a crunch Champions League clash against RB Leipzig on Tuesday, but he brought both on at half-time to try to breathe some life into his side.

“Bruno and Marcus came on and did well. First half we had loads of possession but we didn’t go anywhere with the ball. Second half we stretched them more and ran in behind. The quality was much better, the goals were exceptional,” Solskjaer said.

United pulled level in the 65th minute with a sensational strike from distance from Pogba after Fernandes had set him up at the top of the penalty area.

Minutes later, Greenwood had the visitors in front with a brilliant turn and strike that Lukasz Fabianski could do nothing about in the West Ham goal and Rashford added to the lead with a cheeky chip after being played in by substitute Juan Mata.

“Of course, you are very, very happy with the away form. I think the home form is decent, we are becoming more and more consistent and we are coping better with games like this. When you are 1-0, 2-0 down the boys still believe and that character is important,” Solskjaer said.

“Away from home we have character and belief. Five times on the bounce to come from behind and win is exceptional.”

The result puts United on 19 points from 10 matches, one ahead of fifth-placed Manchester City and two behind leaders Liverpool and Tottenham.

West Ham manager David Moyes was upset that United’s equaliser was not ruled out, arguing that a long high ball down the line from keeper Dean Henderson went out of play before it was collected by Fernandes who set up Pogba’s great strike.

“I thought we played very well tonight. The only reason we got stretched was a poor decision. The ball went over my head on the touchline, there was no-one in a better position to see it than me,” said the Scotsman. “The ball was out of play, the players’ reaction gives the best way to look at it and all our players knew it was out of play as well.

“[After that] we turned off. It really gave us a bad feeling from that disappointment.”

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