September 23, 2020

Man Utd need point to reach Champions League after draw with West Ham

Mason Greenwood scored his 17th goal of the season for Manchester United

Manchester United need a point from their final game to clinch a Champions League place after coming from behind to draw against West Ham.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side moved into the top four, ahead of Leicester, who they face at the King Power Stadium on Sunday.

But victory for Brendan Rodgers’ side will deny the Red Devils a spot in Europe’s elite club competition next season.

Meanwhile, the point for David Moyes’ side guarantees Premier League football next season as they now lie four points clear of the relegation zone.

West Ham went ahead on the stroke of half-time through Michail Antonio’s coolly taken penalty after Paul Pogba handled inside the area.

United levelled early in the second half through Mason Greenwood who exchanged passes with Anthony Martial before drilling home a low finish for his 17th goal of the season.

United goalkeeper David de Gea’s position has been under scrutiny after two errors in the FA Cup semi-final loss to Chelsea, but the Spaniard made an excellent reflex save to deny Jarrod Bowen.

Declan Rice struck a powerful drive narrowly over but neither side were able to find a winner.

Greenwood the United star

Although Solskjaer said during United’s pre-season tour of Australia he rated Greenwood as the best finisher at the club, it was not until December that he gave the 18-year-old his first Premier League start of the season.

Twenty-two games on, it is hard to imagine the line-up for an important game being picked without him.

His latest clinical effort was his 10th in the league this term. Michael Owen’s astonishing effort in 1997-98, when he scored 18, is the only time a teenager has done better since the Premier League was formed in 1992.

The intricate close passing with Martial which created the shooting opportunity underlined that Greenwood is much more than a goalscorer. It felt like he was taking responsibility when other, more experienced, team-mates had not.

Owen went to a World Cup after his stellar season. Greenwood has more time and, although he will still be a teenage when the European Championships begin next summer, on this evidence it would be no surprise to see him included in Gareth Southgate’s squad.

The goal was vital for United, who have failed to win successive home games for the first time in nearly six months, but have the advantage at just the right time as Solskjaer looks to return the club back to something like their former selves.

More to follow.