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West Ham manager Harry Redknapp
"This is the best team we have had at West Ham in 20 years"
 real 14k

West Ham's Paolo Di Canio
talks to BBC MOTD's Barry Davies
 real 56k

Saturday, 26 August, 2000, 15:52 GMT 16:52 UK
Hammers fightback denies champions
West Ham's Joe Cole and United's Roy Keane tangle
West Ham's Joe Cole and United's Roy Keane tangle
West Ham 2-2 Manchester United
real 14k BBC Five Live's John Murray reports from Upton Park

A spirited West Ham side would have notched up their first win against Manchester United in the Premiership had they not shown an astonishing lack of basic finishing skills.

They took to the field champing at the bit and continued to show great determination despite going behind on six minutes, when David Beckham curled home another spectacular free-kick.

But Rio Ferdinand, Michael Carrick, Joe Cole and Paolo di Canio squandered chance after chance, rarely forcing Fabien Barthez into a meaningful save.

It is the hallmark of the champions that without dominating matches they still score goals - and the London side will have spent the first half wondering how they failed to match them.


We took our foot off the gas and got punished for that. I think West Ham deserved their point. They kept fighting and tackling all over the pitch.
  Sir Alex Ferguson

Their two goals came within the final three minutes, Di Canio scoring from the spot after Joe Cole was brought down by second-half substitute Henning Berg, followed by a header a minute from time by Davor Suker.

Sir Alex Ferguson appeared deeply unhappy with his team's performance during the first half as West Ham ploughed forward with alarming regularity.

Still, his men stuck to their task and scored early in both halves to give them the advantage.

Teasing cross

The home side, still looking for their first points of the new season after defeats by Chelsea and Leicester in the opening week, came close to taking the lead seconds from the final whistle.

So did United, who hit the woodwork twice in the final seconds, both efforts coming from Beckham.

A combative match appeared inevitable almost from the kick-off as Cole tangled with Beckham and then Igor Stimac scythed Teddy Sheringham down from behind.

But the Croatian's impetuousity cost his side dear as referee Dermot Gallagher ordered a free-kick in prime Beckham country.


I thought we started great but when they scored we lost a little bit of belief. But we picked up again and at half-time I told the lads we could win the game
  Harry Redknapp
The midfielder stepped up and, with seeming ease, curled a beautiful shot away from Shaka Hislop and into the top corner.

Harry Redknapp's men were not to be deterred, though, keeping their spirits up and their play bright.

Ferdinand came close but capped a clever move with a poor shot - and Carrick fired in a thundering attempt which Barthez was forced to parry.

The Hammers put the visitors under sustained pressure - their best chance coming courtesy of a mix-up between Silvestre and Barthez.

That left Di Canio in possession and in front of an open goal - but his 30-yard effort flew wide.

Frustration

Norwegian Berg replaced Stam at half-time, which threatened to put the United defence under further pressure.

The Hammers came out with the same fighting spirit but it seemed there was something of the inevitable in they way Man United doubled their advantage.

The visitors broke out of their own half, Ryan Giggs eventually sweeping the ball across to Andrew Cole, who made no fuss in scoring.

The home side's frustration began to show as the game wore on, Suker finding himself booked for a pointless challenge on Paul Scholes.

The game had all but died when Berg caught Joe Cole on the edge of the area.

Di Canio's penalty gave his side an enormous lift and Suker stunned Man United with time running out.


Teams:

West Ham: Hislop, S Pearce, Stimac, Ferdinand, Margas, Lomas, Cole, Winterburn, Carrick, Suker, Di Canio.
Subs: Bywater, Kitson, Potts, Bassila, A. Newton.

Man Utd: Barthez, G. Neville, Stam, Silvestre, P. Neville, Beckham, Keane, Scholes, Sheringham, Cole, Giggs.
Subs: Van Der Gouw, Solskjaer, Berg, Wallwork, Greening.

Referee: D Gallagher (Banbury)

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See also:

22 Aug 00 |  Eng Prem
Fergie's men survive Ipswich scare
20 Aug 00 |  Man Utd
Sir Alex salutes perfect start
20 Aug 00 |  Eng Prem
Stanic brace sinks Hammers
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