Festive period ends with double defeat
By Tom Dowsett
Tuesday 03 Jan 2017 14:16:00
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After a narrow loss away at Leicester City on New Year's Eve, it wasn't the best start to 2017 either as West Ham United were controversially beaten by Manchester United on Monday evening.

Slaven Bilic made three changes to the side that faced the Foxes at the weekend, as Sofiane Feghouli earned his first league start for the club, following his summer switch from Valencia, while Pedro Obiang and Manuel Lanzini were also restored to the starting line-up.

Captain Mark Noble, André Ayew and Andy Carroll all dropped to the bench.

Winning this game could have lifted the Hammers into the top half of the table and they started well but missed the chance to go in front with only ten minutes gone, as Dimitri Payet set Lanzini away and the midfielder's fierce shot was pushed past the post by goalkeeper David De Gea.

Feghouli's top-flight debut didn't last too long, as five minutes later, referee Mike Dean quickly brandished a straight red card from his pocket for the apparent foul on defender Phil Jones. Replays showed that the card was undeserved and left the hosts seething. 

Bilic had to change formation with Michail Antonio switching to his more familiar midfield position, rather than filling in as a striker.

José Mourinho's men had missed a golden chance to go in front on 35 minutes after Henrikh Mkhitaryan had sent Luis Antonio Valencia through but incredibly, Darren Randolph saved before the ball fell to Jesse Lingard, who hit the post, when it would have been easier to score!

The East Londoners missed a chance of their own just as two minutes of added time had been signalled when Antonio sent Lanzini clear but he sent a curling shot inches wide.

Having suffered the disappointment of the earlier red card, the Irons were just grateful to have gone into the break with the scores level.

Although both teams started the second-half strongly, West Ham went close on 53 minutes but unfortunately, Antonio headed over following Payet's freekick.

It wasn't long before Antonio had his next effort, as he had the chance to atone for his wastefulness just six minutes later when he again linked up with Lanzini but De Gea came to the visitors' rescue once more, as he saved well with his legs.

The Red Devils opened the scoring on 62 minutes, as substitute Marcus Rashford combined well with Juan Mata and the Spaniard placed the ball past Randolph.

West Ham made their first change on 69 minutes, as Carroll replaced Payet.

Mourinho's side clinched the points on 77 minutes when Obiang's attempted clearance fell into the path of Ander Herriera who then played in Zlatan Ibrahimovic for him to beat Randolph once again and the goal stood, despite the Swede being one of three players offside.

Even the late introductions of Edimilson Fernandes and Ayew for Cheikou Kouyate and Lanzini couldn't inspire a comeback which meant the home side slipped back to 13th in the Premier League.

If that test wasn't enough, there's another one to come on Friday night, when the FA Cup third-round takes centre stage and Bilic's men face a visit from the blue side of Manchester.

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