Martial saves Man Utd, earns FA Cup replay

2016-03-13 20:20
Anthony Martial (TEAMtalk)

London - A late Anthony Martial goal earned Manchester United a 1-1 draw at home to West Ham United on Sunday that kept Louis van Gaal's side in the FA Cup.

Dimitri Payet looked as though he had given West Ham a first win in 10 attempts at Old Trafford thanks to a stunning 68th-minute free-kick in the last of this season's quarter-finals.

Defeat could have all but ended Manchester United's season, with Van Gaal's men 2-0 down to Liverpool in the Europa League last 16 and struggling to qualify for the Champions League.

But in a difficult season for the Dutchman, Martial has been one of the few successes and the young Frenchman popped up to volley home in the 83rd minute and send the tie to a replay at the Boleyn Ground.

West Ham were backed by some 9,000 supporters hoping to see their side reach a first FA Cup semi-final since they lost on penalties to Liverpool in the 2006 final.

They were rewarded by an impressive start, which reflected the Premier League form that has seen them emerge as direct rivals to Manchester United for a top-four finish.

Slaven Bilic's side, two points and a place above Van Gaal's men in fifth place in the league, made three decent chances inside the first 18 minutes as they took the game to their hosts with some excellent football.

The best opportunity was presented to Emmanuel Emenike just five minutes in when Andy Carroll's through-ball left him with just goalkeeper David de Gea to beat, but the Nigeria international dragged his shot wide.

The re-called Carroll then headed over at full stretch from an Aaron Cresswell cross, before Cresswell again provided the delivery for Emenike to head too close to De Gea, who made a comfortable save.

It was not all West Ham, though, as Manchester United offered more than they had in their dismal 2-0 Europa League defeat at Liverpool last Thursday, which may well have closed one avenue to cup success.

Jesse Lingard, suspended for the trip to Anfield, put a couple of early efforts wide and Marcus Rashford volleyed over the top from a Guillermo Varela cross.

But United's best two chances of the opening half fell to Ander Herrera, also back in the starting line-up, who sent a close-range volley wide and then shot too high from Marcos Rojo's pull-back.

With captain Wayne Rooney still missing due to a knee injury, United look short of goal power, but they upped the tempo after the break and forced the visitors onto the defensive.

The Hammers found themselves living dangerously around the hour mark as United pressed for the opening goal.

Again Herrera had the chance to score, but this time his fierce drive was blocked by Winston Reid -- substituted moments later -- with United claiming they should have had a penalty after the ball struck the defender's arm.

Rashford was then denied by visiting goalkeeper Darren Randolph before a moment of controversy at the other end saw Payet go down in the box as Rojo slid in. Replays suggested contact had been minimal at best.

France international Payet, booked earlier for a trip on Lingard, could well have been cautioned, but was reprieved by referee Martin Atkinson and four minutes later struck the opening goal.

Presented with a free-kick 30 yards from goal, the former Marseille man curled the ball superbly past De Gea and in off a post to claim his 11th goal of a memorable season and set West Ham en route to Wembley.

But with just seven minutes to go Martial rescued United -- and potentially their season -- with a smart far-post finish from Herrera's deep cross, hooking the ball over the line.

Michael Carrick went close for United and Michail Antonio and Mark Noble did likewise for West Ham in a breathless finish to a thrilling tie.


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