10th May 2016: West Ham say goodbye to Upton Park in style


Two goals in the last fifteen minutes sealed a rousing comeback win for West Ham as they said fitting farewell after 112 years at the Boleyn Ground, four years ago today.

Visitors Manchester United looked to have secured the three points themselves and kept Champions League qualification in their own hands, after a second half Anthony Martial double overturned Diafra Sakho’s early opener.

But Michail Antonio and Winston Reid struck late to ensure it was a night of celebration for Slaven Bilić’s Hammers, both on and off the pitch.

Kick-off was delayed by 45 minutes after ‘supporters’ attacked the United team coach en route to the stadium, smashing windows amid crowd trouble that threatened to overshadow the occasion.

But fortunately there was no repeat of the unsavoury scenes in the stands and the wait only served to heat up an already passionate atmosphere.

Fireworks marked the end of an era for the Hammers at Upton Park (credit: BBC Sport)

West Ham seemed to fuel themselves on the emotion of the occasion, pressing high and piling on early pressure around the United box.

After ten minutes, the onslaught became too much for the visiting defence and Sakho slotted the opening goal.

The Senegalese striker slotted into the near-post bottom corner, having dropped into space around the penalty spot to receive Manuel Lanzini pull-back.

The Hammers kept their foot on the accelerator, David De Gea denying Andy Carroll with a trademark save with his legs, before an Antonio header was chalked off – Mike Dean’s team of officials judging the ball had already gone out of play for a corner.

Louis Van Gaal’s United managed only a single, wayward Wayne Rooney shot during a tame first half performance and only produced two more efforts on goal after the break.

That looked to be enough to take the points back to Manchester though, with both Martial strikes finding the back of the net.

First, the Frenchman tapped into an empty net in the 51st minute, after Juan Mata had dug out a pass from the by-line that goalkeeper Darren Randolph couldn’t intercept.

Then in the 72nd minute a quick counter attack saw Rooney and Rashford combine in the centre circle to set Martial free down the left channel.

He beat West Ham centre-half Reid for pace before squeezing the ball past Randolph at the near-post – the home stopper had wrongly gambled by shifting his weight in anticipation of cutting out a cross.

But the visitors’ celebrations didn’t last long, as Antonio got on the end of Dimitri Payet’s clipped through ball to nod in just four minutes later.

Another header proved to be the winner in the 80th minute, with Reid this time latching onto Payet’s wide, in-swinging free kick that had been whipped across the six-yard box.

Winston Reid leaps highest to celebrate his winning goal (credit: Telegraph)

Poor marking and an uncharacteristic flap from De Gea couldn’t overshadow the significance of the emotional moment for a home crowd that had been in full voice all night.

Fireworks, London taxis and former players took part in an elaborate closing ceremony following the final whistle, with West Ham able to look forward to starting life at the Olympic Stadium in the Europa League.

Manchester United, meanwhile, had handed the initiative to Manchester City in the race for fourth place ahead of the 2015-16 season final day.

Though outplayed for much of the contest, manager Van Gaal blamed the disappointing defeat on a lack of height at set-plays and refused to use the pre-match bus attack as an excuse.

The Dutchman said: “As a professional, we live in this world, we know that can happen, we have to cope with that.

“I believe we did that – twenty minutes before the end, we were 2-1 ahead, so I don’t think it was influencing.”

Hammers boss Bilić said: “We were under pressure. We didn’t want to not win the last game at this fantastic stadium and to do it against Man United is not easy.

“The guys showed everything – quality, legs, team spirit, working together. They were really good in a tactical way.

“We didn’t stop believing we could turn it around because we were unlucky to go in only 1-0 at half-time.

“We had to use the pressure to open our eyes and keep us on our toes for the whole game.

“It ticked all the boxes to make a blockbuster. The stadium deserves this kind of farewell.”


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