Ralf Rangnick hailed the atmosphere at Old Trafford, Manchester United’s defensive display and the impact of super-sub Marcus Rashford after his side’s dramatic stoppage-time victory over West Ham.
The front four rivals looked set to play out a lackluster goalless draw on Saturday afternoon as former United boss David Moyes’ well-trained side produced a strong performance at Old Trafford.
West Ham had already won there this season in the Carabao Cup, but this time United emerged victorious as Rangnick threw caution to the wind, bringing in Anthony Martial, Edinson Cavani and Rashford.
All three were involved in the third and final minute of stoppage time, with the latter heading home outside the Stretford End to seal a 1-0 win that rocked Old Trafford to their foundations.
“We still have to improve in possession”
“If I look at the shots on goal and the chances during the game, I think we deserved a 1-0 win,” Rangnick said.
“For me, it was clear from the start that patience would be needed against a well-organized side like West Ham. It wasn’t always easy for us to find the best possible solutions in the final third.
“Defensively I think that was probably the best performance of the last eight weeks, the way we were always trying to get balls back, our counter pressure.
“The physicality of the game was really exceptional and we know that we still have to improve with possession of the ball.”
When asked if ‘Fergie’s hour’ – when Sir Alex Ferguson United teams often won late games – is now ‘Ralfie’s hour’, he smiled and said: ‘I don’t I don’t know how long Fergie lasted. Was it the last five minutes? How long? I wouldn’t mind if that happened!”
“But, again, of course, we would also like to have more games like Brentford at the end as we were 3-0 up.
“But if you score in the last seconds of the game, the big advantage is that the team doesn’t have time to respond and that was good for the goal.”
Ralf celebrates spectacular Rashford winner…
“The fans carried us through the game”
The late goal meant Rangnick oversaw back-to-back wins for the first time in charge, United usurping West Ham in fourth.
“I also enjoyed the other wins, including the win at Brentford, which was as important as today’s win, but it was a hugely emotional game,” he said.
“An extremely emotional moment if you score in the last second of the game, knowing that the other team has no time to fight back.
“It was extremely emotional, I can only say thank you to the Red Army. The way they supported the team throughout the game – they pushed and carried us through the game. It was amazing .
“Since I arrived, during home games, it was by far the best atmosphere in the stadium.”
“Rashford is one of the best strikers in England”
The winner was also special for Rashford, who responded to recent criticism of their poor showing with goals against Brentford and West Ham.
“He’s one of the best strikers in England,” the caretaker said. “He is an English international, who has regularly played in the Euros and we all know his qualities.
“He has almost everything a modern striker needs. He has the pace, the skills, he has the size and the physique of a striker and in the end it’s all about confidence for the strikers.
“I’m pretty sure those two goals raised the level of confidence within Marcus, but now it’s about taking action, showing it regularly.
“It’s a matter of continuity now and I think he can play a very important role for the rest of the season for us.”
Rashford: Very important, we got the win
Marcus Rashford was delighted with his moment of victory outside the Stretford End.
“Very happy today and a very big game against an opponent who is very tight with us at the moment, so it was very important that we got the win,” he said.
“You may not see it now but, at the end of the season, three points can be the difference between being in or out of the top four.
“I’m glad we managed to get them today and we have to use that as motivation.”
Rashford has now scored twice in two games, having failed to find the net in his previous 11 appearances in all competitions.
“I think for any striker, when you go through a period without scoring for a few games, it’s a great feeling when the goals start coming in,” he added.
“We just have to keep moving forward now and keep going in the right direction.”
Analysis: Man Utd revived by Rashford
Sky Sports’ Nick Wright:
After a run of 11 games without scoring and with his form under intense scrutiny, Marcus Rashford continued his late strike against Brentford on Wednesday night with a crucial winner in the last minute of stoppage time against West Ham.
Ralf Rangnick’s side were seemingly heading for a goalless draw having failed to break West Ham but, with just seconds remaining at Old Trafford, Rashford raced to the far post to convert the low cross from Edinson Cavani.
The goal propelled Manchester United above West Ham and into the top four, and it could prove just as important for Rashford.
How he needed this. Rashford scored three times in his first four appearances of the campaign after returning from injury in October, but the following months brought only frustration as his poor form eventually prompted Ralf Rangnick to use teenager Anthony Elanga in place.
Rashford isn’t the only one who has struggled to hold down a place in United’s attack, of course. The same goes for Anthony Martial and Jadon Sancho. But with two goals in four days, he may have just revived his own season as well as United’s top-four bid.
Moyes: We need to see the games better
As for his West Ham counterpart, Moyes, his frustration was evident in a short answer to the first question from the press conference.
“P***** off with this result for sure,” he said.
It was a missed opportunity for the Hammers, who made just one substitution and came close to snatching a winner before the hosts.
West Ham fans clash with riot police at Old Trafford
A number of West Ham fans clashed with police in riot gear at Old Trafford after their 1-0 loss to Manchester United.
Two supporters were seen spitting at the officers as tempers rose outside after the game.
Sky Sports News has contacted Greater Manchester Police and West Ham for comment.
West Ham are investigating reports of problems after the game.
“You have to know how to watch the games,” Moyes said.
“Let’s be fair, people who watch West Ham regularly will see that we’ve had games where that has been a problem.
“We won games 3-0 and it ended 3-2, or we had games like that, so it’s something we need to do a lot better.”
What future for West Ham? Should they invest?
Sky Sports’ Paul Merson:
“I thought West Ham should have entered the transfer market at the start of January. Things looked a bit rosier at the start of the month. They looked like they had a very good chance of getting into the top four and I thought that they could invest at that time.
“It’s a big gamble to invest now because there are so many teams in and around them. They can go and spend £60-70m next week and they could still finish eighth. That’s how tight it is.
“There are too many big teams with games going now and if they invest who are they going to get. I think I should leave it as it is now, if I was West Ham.