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Saturday, October 16, 2021

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United 0-1 West Ham: Reds crash out of Carabao Cup

If Ole Gunnar Solskjær is to win his maiden silverware as Manchester United manager this season, it won’t be the Carabao Cup. The Reds were defeated 1-0 by West Ham United in Wednesday’s third round tie at Old Trafford, as the Hammers exacted revenge for their defeat by United in the Premier League over the weekend.

Solskjær made extensive changes to the side that won away in London on Sunday — 11 in all. Dean Henderson replaced David de Gea between the sticks, Donny van de Beek was handed only his second start of the season, and Jadon Sancho returned to the left flank, among a host of other tweaks.

However, United made a less than convincing start to the match, and had already given away a couple of chances by the time West Ham took the lead. There were less than 10 minutes on the clock when right-back Ryan Fredericks burst past Alex Telles with embarrassing ease, and cut back to an unmarked Manuel Lanzini, lurking on the edge of the United box. The Argentine attacker made no mistake, stroking the ball inside the far post for 1-0.

The hosts soon sprung to life, and twice went close to equalising in the following six minutes. Juan Mata cracked a curling effort against the crossbar after one of his corners was returned to sender, and Anthony Martial should have hit the target after being slipped through by Nemanja Matić.

United continued to create the better chances, but few were particularly clear-cut. Jesse Lingard and Martial both had snapshots from the edge of the Hammers box but failed to test Alphonse Areola. It wasn’t until past the hour that the French goalkeeper was called into action, and he did well to get down to deny substitute Mason Greenwood, who’d scampered onto a wonderful chipped pass by van de Beek.

With 15 minutes left on the clock, Solskjær introduced Bruno Fernandes in an attempt to find the elusive equaliser. The game had become increasingly stretched, and Greenwood’s runs were causing the Hammers serious problems. However, the visitors should twice have killed the game off in the final five minutes: Nikola Vlašić rattled the post, moments before Jarrod Bowen squared across the face of goal for Mark Noble, though he was denied by Henderson from point-blank range.

Fortunately for Noble, his blushes were spared: for all of their effort, United failed to find an equalising goal, and crashed out of the Carabao Cup at the first time of asking.

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