West Ham win thriller, but violence mars Boleyn farewell
Hammers come from behind to beat United after the visitors' coach comes under attack outside the ground
West Ham United 3 Manchester United 2
It was an unforgettable evening at Upton Park on Tuesday, but as much for what happened off the field as on it. The Hammers bowed out of their famous old ground in style, beating their opponents 3-2 in a thrilling match that has taken United's Champions League aspirations out of their hands. But the match was marred by unfortunate scenes beforehand as the United coach came under attack from a mob of West Ham supporters.
Mounted police battled with yobs who hurled beer bottles, cans and other objects at the United coach. "It wasn't nice," said United captain Wayne Rooney. "Our coach got smashed up...it was a big night for West Ham, leaving the stadium, but I'm sure the club will be disappointed with what the fans have done."
Astonishingly, West Ham co-owner David Sullivan pointed the finger of blame at United, accusing of them of making a "mistake" in arriving at the ground in the early evening: "Man United should have got here at 4pm," he said. "The police have been kind to them."
Sullivan then dug himself in even deeper, saying: "There was no attack on the coach. If you check the coach, there won't be any damage to it."
But, as The Sun reports, "nine windows were shattered" in the attack, and video footage released from inside the vehicle shows several players "lying down in the aisle away from the windows".
The mayhem, which is sure to have serious repercussions for West Ham, caused the kick-off to be delayed by 45 minutes and when the match eventually got underway there was still an undercurrent of aggression directed at the United players. David De Gea had to dodge two bottles that were thrown his way from the Bobby Moore Stand and United manager Louis van Gaal summed up their evening by telling reporters: "The way we have been received is not the proper way... it is not so nice."
Van Gaal wasn't best pleased by events on the pitch, either, as West Ham dominated United in the first-half, the players swept along on the wave of emotion generated by the fans. Diafra Sakho put the hosts one up after just ten minutes, side-footing Manuel Lanzini's cross into the corner of the United net.
But United stunned the Hammers in the second-half with two goals from Anthony Martial, the first on 51 minutes and the second on 72 minutes.
West Ham were determined their 112-year stay at Upton Park wouldn't end in defeat, however, and two headers in the space of four minutes restored their lead. Michail Antonio levelled when he got on the end of Dimitri Payet's cross and Winston Reid then claimed the honour of scoring the last goal at Upton Park, again thanks to the service of Payet. "It was just meant to be tonight," Reid declared. "It is brilliant for us. It was the best atmosphere we have played in."
The result lifts West Ham above Southampton into sixth place, a point behind United, who now trail fourth place Manchester City by two points. The defeat means that United must beat Bournemouth at Old Trafford on Sunday while hoping City lose at Swansea. Even if United win and City draw, the Sky Blues will finish above them because of their vastly superior goal difference.
"I think it is still possible but it is not in our hands and that is the difference," conceded van Gaal. "It is very disappointing because we were ahead. We gave it away because of the set plays."
Nonetheless the United manager struck a bullish note ahead of Super Sunday, saying: "In the last match of the season we can pass over Manchester City. They can lose and we can win...in this league it happens a lot and Swansea City has a very good run."