A late Robin van Persie goal earned Manchester United a 2-2 draw at Upton Park on Wednesday, but West Ham were left to rue what could have been after replays showed the striker was offside on the goal. The Hammers were hard done, but still did take a point and a bit of good feeling after outplaying the Red Devils for long stretches.
West Ham's opener was the result of a quick and gorgeous counterattack. When United gave the ball away within 25 yards of goal, the Hammers broke the other way with Mohamed Diame opening things up through the center before feeding Matt Jarvis on the left. Jarvis left Rio Ferdinand in his wake to get to the endline and cross to the back post for Andy Carroll, who nodded back across for Ricardo Vaz Te to come in with a diving header. Neither David Ne Gea nor Nemanja Vidic, who was on the line, could keep the ball out and West Ham were 1-0 up.
The Hammers deserved their goal after a bright opening to the match, but it appeared as if the goal just woke United up. The visitors began to play quicker and with more purpose going forward, which paid off when they equalized at the half-hour mark.
Like West Ham's goal, United's came from the left. Shinji Kagawa fed van Persie, who played it right back to the streaking Kagawa. A lovely shimmy by Kagawa later and Winston Reid was on the ground while Kagawa was playing the ball across to an unmarked Antonio Valencia, who tapped the ball into the wide open net to leel things.
But while the Red Devils certainly improved their play and got a goal, they were not the better side for the remainder of the first half. West Ham showed more creativity and were sturdier at the back so when the match went to the break level, United had to feel a bit fortunate.
The second half started much lie the first ended, with West Ham on the front foot and United playing just well enough to keep the Hammers scared. For all of West Ham's forays forward, they couldn't get many clear-cut shots away, while the Red Devils broke quickly every time they had the chance, albeit it rarely.
It began to look like it would take a moment of individual brilliance to get the Hammers a good shot and a goal, which is exactly what they got from Mohamed Diame in the 55th minute. Having received the ball with his back towards goal at the right corner of the box, Diame flicked the ball towards the middle, turned and hit a tremendous curling shot into the far corner of the net for a stunning go-ahead goal. Upton Park was electric and West Ham was back on their way to victory.
West Ham's advantage would only last 22 minutes, though, and they have the linesman to blame for that. Kagawa had a brilliant turn at the top of the box and hit a belter that rattled the bar, leaving van Persie a fat rebound to knock into the open net for the equalizer -- only replays showed van Persie to be clearly offside. The goal should have been ruled out, but the linesman's flag stayed down and United were level, much to the Hammers' disgust.
After the Red Devils equalized, they pushed hard for a winner. Javier Hernandez came on and caused fits for the Hammers defense, but his first shot was right at Jussi Jaaskelainen and his next goal bound effort was kept out by a diving block.
A winner wasn't coming for United, who, frankly, didn't deserve it. They were outplayed for much of the match and were only level thanks to an offside goal so even a draw was flattering, while West Ham were left to wonder how they didn't take all three.