West Ham manager Manuel Pellegrini said his side are becoming “more consistent and more solid” after continuing their fine start to the campaign with victory over Manchester United.
Goals from Andriy Yarmolenko and Aaron Cresswell earned the Hammers their second successive home win against the Red Devils, who lost striker Marcus Rashford with a groin injury in the second half.
The result lifts West Ham up to fifth in the table – 12 places and seven points better off than at the same stage last season. “We have more quality, but we’re also more consistent and more solid,” said Pellegrini. “It’s good to win, especially against Manchester United here at home and to keep a clean sheet. We tried to win from the beginning. We didn’t allow them to create chances and Andriy’s goal was the key factor to open the game. It was a good goal.”Embed from Getty Images
Yarmolenko opened the scoring on the stroke of half-time, sending a low finish past David de Gea following patient build-up play involving Mark Noble and Felipe Anderson. Cresswell sealed all three points for the hosts in the second half with a superb free-kick into the top right-hand corner.
Chances were at a premium in a cagey first half at London Stadium, with Noble’s deflected effort from Pablo Fornals’ free-kick the closest either team came to a breakthrough before Yarmolenko’s strike.
“Maybe we played too fast in the first 45 minutes, which is why we lost so many balls,” added the former Manchester City boss. “But I told the players at half-time that if we defend the way we did in the first half, we were not going to concede too many opportunities [in the second half].”
Juan Mata should have levelled for the visitors two minutes after the restart but failed to hit the target after connecting well with Andreas Pereira’s low cross.
Pellegrini’s charges were bottom of the table after four matches last season, but Sunday’s result lifts them three points above Solskjaer’s side in the standings – a mark of their progress under the Chilean’s stewardship.Embed from Getty Images
The Hammers have now kept four successive clean sheets in all competitions, while summer signing Sebastien Haller and fit-again Yarmolenko have shown considerable promise up front in recent weeks. Yarmolenko was a constant menace, breaking the deadlock with a composed finish and registering more shots than anyone else on the pitch.
The Ukrainian nearly set up West Ham’s second midway through the second half, but Felipe Anderson – who endured a disappointing afternoon – fired straight at De Gea from a tight angle. The game remained on a knife edge until the 84th minute, when Cresswell’s sublime free-kick – his first goal since April 2018 – sealed the points for the home side.
The result moves Pellegrini’s team level on points with third-placed Leicester.