West Ham United suffered defeat in their first match of 2017, as referee Mike Dean’s absurd red card of Sofiane Feghouli was the key moment in their 2-0 loss to Manchester United at the London Stadium.
Feghouli received a ridiculous sending off in the 14th minute, when Dean judged the Algerian of sliding dangerously into United centerback Phil Jones. But both players slid hard into each other and it wasn’t enough to give either Feghouli or Jones even a yellow card.
That controversial decision didn’t ruin the Hammers spirit, who started the match well before the sending off with great energetic play from Feghouli, Dimitri Payet and Manuel Lanzini. They continued their good play after being down to 10 men with solid organization and the occasional threat, with Lanzini forcing David De Gea into a good save after a fine curling effort by the Argentine playmaker.
But playing with 10 men will always be difficult to overcome, especially when you play a side like United. Somehow, West Ham were able to get to halftime 0-0 after Darren Randolph did incredibly well to save Antonio Valencia from point blink range. Luck would come to the Hammers instantly when Jesse Lingard followed up Randolph’s save of Valencia with one of the misses of the season.
United, however, found their opener in the 63rd minute, when substitute Marcus Rashford’s pace and skill was too much for Havard Nordtveit, leading to the teen phenom to find Juan Mata in the box for a quality finish past Randolph from the Spaniard.
Dean’s officiating crew would get it wrong again for the visitor’s second goal, when Zlatan Ibrahimovic found the ball after Andre Herrera’s shot was deflected and scored with a ripping hit. The goal should not have stood though, as Ibrahimovic was in an offside’s position.
The Hammers will now take a near two week break from league play, but now have the annual FA Cup Third Round weekend to contend with in this busy winter period. And they face the other formidable Manchester side in Pep Guardiola’s City, on Friday, at home in the Olympic Stadium.