Premier League: Marcus Rashford sends Manchester United into top four; Gerrard's Villa rub salt into Everton wounds

Marcus Rashford struck with virtually the last kick of the game to take Manchester United into the Premier League top four at West Ham's expense with a 1-0 win on Saturday.

Agence France-Presse January 22, 2022 23:03:53 IST
Premier League: Marcus Rashford sends Manchester United into top four; Gerrard's Villa rub salt into Everton wounds

Manchester United's Marcus Rashford, centre, celebrates with teammates after scoring his side's first goal during the English Premier League soccer match between Manchester United and West Ham at Old Trafford stadium in Manchester, England, on Saturday. AP

Manchester/Liverpool: Marcus Rashford struck with virtually the last kick of the game to take Manchester United into the Premier League top four at West Ham's expense with a 1-0 win on Saturday.

United were insipid as an attacking force for 93 minutes at Old Trafford, but found the breakthrough at the death as all three of Ralf Rangnick's substitutes combined when Anthony Martial and Edinson Cavani teed up Rashford for a tap in at the back post.

Victory lifts United a point above the Hammers and sees the Red Devils leapfrog Tottenham and Arsenal in the battle for Champions League football next season.

Rangnick has lost just one of his 10 games since taking temporary charge till the end of the season, but once again the result was more impressive than the performance from the German's side.

Bruno Fernandes looked back to his best with two goals and two assists in the past week and the Portuguese nearly created the opener with a fiercely struck cross that just evaded Cristiano Ronaldo in the most dangerous moment of the first half.

Alphonse Areola was drafted in to the West Ham goal in the absence of Lukasz Fabianski due to a positive test for coronavirus, but the Frenchman was forced into just one serious save when he turned Fred's driven shot behind early in the second half.

Fernandes dragged another effort wide from the edge of the box as United toiled to the frustration of the 75,000 crowd.

However, Rangnick's changes made the difference.

Rashford has looked devoid of confidence in recent months, but his first goal since October in a 3-1 win at Brentford on Wednesday gave the England international a lift.

Rangnick claimed that Anthony Martial had refused to be part of his squad for last weekend's 2-2 draw at Aston Villa as he looks for a move away from the club for more game time.

The Frenchman publicly denied that accusation and was given his first minutes under the interim boss when he was introduced along with Cavani in the final 10 minutes.

David de Gea was nearly caught out by a long-range effort from Declan Rice as the game entered stoppage time.

But rather than snatch a winner, West Ham were hit with a sucker punch on the counter-attack.

Martial played in Cavani on the left of the box and the Uruguayan's cross just required a touch from Rashford at the back post.

The wild celebrations survived a VAR check against Cavani for offside and there was barely time for West Ham to kick-off in what could be a fatal blow to their outside hopes of reaching the Champions League for the first time.

Aston Villa beat Everton

Everton's change of management did not result in a change of fortunes as Aston Villa manager Steven Gerrard enjoyed a winning return to Merseyside with a 1-0 victory at Goodison Park.

Emiliano Buendia's header in first half stoppage time separated the sides to leave the Toffees still just five points above the relegation zone in 16th.

Duncan Ferguson took temporary charge of Everton following the sacking of Rafael Benitez last weekend after a run of just one win in 13 league games.

Ferguson was unbeaten in three matches as caretaker boss against Chelsea, Manchester United and Arsenal before Carlo Ancelotti took charge just over two years ago.

But he could not replicate that success as former Liverpool captain Gerrard got one over on his old rivals.

"It's a big win for us," said Gerrard, whose side move up to 10th in the table.

"It was a different style of game. Especially second half we had to roll our sleeves up and put our bodies on the line."

Ferguson bought a round of drinks for fans in a pub next to the stadium before kick-off and got the raucous atmosphere he was looking for.

Both sides flew into tackles, but there were few clear-cut chances in the first half.

Ollie Watkins should have done better when he prodded wide with just Jordan Pickford to beat.

Another former Liverpool midfielder Philippe Coutinho was quiet on his first Villa start since joining on loan from Barcelona, but had a part to play in the only goal.

The Brazilian's header was tipped over by Pickford.

From the resulting corner, Lucas Digne came back to haunt his former club just weeks after leaving Everton as his corner was flicked in by Buendia.

Digne and Matty Cash were hit by a bottle thrown by the home fans as they celebrated the goal.

Everton should have salvaged at least a point after the break in their battle to beat the drop.

"In the second half the boys gave everything, we just lacked the little bit of quality to stick one in," said Ferguson.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison started together up front for the first time since August and both the Toffees star men were guilty of missing big chances to equalise.

Richarlison headed over before Calvert-Lewin failed to make a good connection to Anthony Gordon's teasing low cross.

Ben Godfrey's effort was cleared off the line by Tyrone Mings and Yerry Mina twice should have done better with headed efforts that drifted off target.

But Villa held out to continue Gerrard's impressive start to his managerial career in the Premier League.

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