Manchester United's top-four hopes smashed after loss to West Ham in Boleyn Ground farewell

Manchester United's hopes of Champions League football took a hit on Tuesday in a 3-2 defeat at West Ham that followed an attack on the visiting team's bus as it arrived for the match.

AP May 11, 2016 02:43:01 IST
Manchester United's top-four hopes smashed after loss to West Ham in Boleyn Ground farewell

London: Manchester United's hopes of Champions League football took a hit on Tuesday in a 3-2 defeat at West Ham that followed an attack on the visiting team's bus as it arrived for the match.

Objects were thrown as the bus reached the stadium for West Ham's last ever game at the Boleyn Ground, ahead of its move to the Olympic Stadium next season. Video footage showed damage to sections of the tinted external windows, while the clear internal windows appeared intact.

Police said one of its officers and a member of the public were injured in the incidents, while the kickoff was delayed by 45 minutes. During the game, a water bottle was thrown at United goalkeeper David de Gea.

 

Manchester Uniteds topfour hopes smashed after loss to West Ham in Boleyn Ground farewell

West Ham's Winston Reid celebrates after scoring against Manchester United. AP

Inside the ground, Winston Reid headed a late winner to give West Ham a victory that left United in fifth place in the standings with 63 points, two points behind crosstown rival Manchester City with one round of matches to play on Sunday.

The defeat will add to the pressure on United manager Louis van Gaal, amid speculation that he will be replaced by former Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho next season.

Tuesday's match swung in one team's favor and then the other, with striker Diafra Sakho giving West Ham a ninth minute lead as the visitors stuttered.

France forward Anthony Martial came to United's rescue, scoring both goals for a 2-1 lead that would have seen his team leapfrog Manchester City.

Instead, West Ham's France midfielder Dmitry Payet provided heading opportunities for Michail Antonio in the 76th minute and Reid in the 80th to score the vital goals as West Ham closed the book on 112 years at Upton Park.

"This ground deserved a farewell result like that," West Ham manager Slaven Bilic told the BBC. "We knew it was going to be a great night but there was a lot of pressure because we didn't want to lose. To win against Manchester United is not easy. We were simply unbelievable."

The club held a 45-minute celebration of Upton Park after the match, featuring pyrotechnics, a laser show, team stars past and present and a punk rock rendition of the club's anthem "I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles."

Former players including Trevor Brooking and Paolo di Canio were interviewed on the pitch and the family of the late England and West Ham captain Bobby Moore, who won the World Cup in 1966, were honored in emotional scenes.

However, the occasion was marred by events before the match.

The English Football Association said in a statement that it "strongly condemns the unsavoury incidents this evening involving both the Manchester United team coach outside West Ham United's Boleyn Ground and objects thrown from a section of the home support during the game.

"We will work closely with both clubs and the Metropolitan Police to fully investigate these matters."

United captain Wayne Rooney told Sky Sports ahead of kickoff that the bus was "smashed up."

Rooney added: "We know it's a big game for West Ham, a big night for them - leaving the stadium - but I'm sure West Ham as a club will be disappointed with what the fans have done."

Van Gaal later refused to blame the incidents for his team's defeat.

"As a professional we live in this world. We know it can happen so we have to cope with that," the Dutchman said. "Twenty minutes from the end, we were 2-1 ahead so I don't think that was an influence."

West Ham co-owner David Sullivan said that United was to blame for not arriving earlier for such a high-profile contest.

"Man United should have got here at 4pm. They know it's our last game," Sullivan said. "They had the same problem at Tottenham a few weeks ago."

The win ensured that West Ham remains in sixth place, meaning that a win against Stoke this weekend would secure Europa League football for its first season at the club's new home.

Tuesday's victory also guaranteed third-place Arsenal qualified for the Champions League for a 19th straight season.

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