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Rashford revives Man Utd's top-four challenge as Rangnick's gamble pays off against West Ham

1:55 AM SGT 23/1/22
MARCUS RASHFORD MANCHESTER UNITED PREMIER LEAGUE 22012022
The German was criticised for his changes against Aston Villa last week but all three of his subs combined to earn a last-gasp 1-0 win over West Ham

Manchester United 1-0 West Ham: Match Statistics

Manchester United's performance against West Ham on Saturday afternoon certainly hadn't been spectacular but Ralf Rangnick could not have cared less when Marcus Rashford’s winner went in with less than 30 seconds of injury time remaining. 

For the hosts, it looked like it was going to be yet another of those games to file in the 'missed opportunity' folder until all three of the manager's substitutes combined to secure three points that sends United into the top four for the first time since October. 

Rangnick was criticised a week ago for not making the right changes in the 2-2 draw at Aston Villa but this time his gamble paid off, with Rashford, Edinson Cavani and Anthony Martial crafting the winner between them. 

Still, there is no denying that United’s attacking play is something that will need to be worked on during the upcoming break.

They dominated the ball at Old Trafford but, for all the talent they had up front, they struggled to test Alphonse Areola in the West Ham goal, failing, along with West Ham, to register a single shot on target in the first half.

Cristiano Ronaldo was complaining to Mason Greenwood twice in the opening 10 minutes that the England international had not played him in instead of shooting himself and again the Portuguese star cut a frustrated figure.

But this time there was no stropping from Ronaldo. He stayed on the pitch as Rangnick ditched Fred and went all-out attack with his last two changes with less than 10 minutes on the clock.

When Rashford’s winner went in, the German celebrated wildly in his technical area, punching the air. His gamble had paid off. 

The win makes it one defeat in 10 for Rangnick and the first time they have won back-to-back league games since he took over at the start of December.

It has been an interesting six weeks since he took over. United have shown flashes of improvement and yet, at other times, have looked like they have gone backwards since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's sacking.

And while this predominantly toothless display might not have been in keeping with the United of old, the 93rd-minute winner definitely was. 

The players will now be given a week off and when they return, Rangnick will attempt to ensure that they use this result over a top-four rival as a springboard for the rest of the season.

They need to start showing consistency, conviction and confidence in their play because their position remains perilous.

They may now be fourth but Tottenham (three) and Arsenal (two) have games in hand despite being only two and three points behind Rangnick's side, respectively.

However, if United win their game in hand on third-placed Chelsea, they would be just three points behind the third-placed Blues.

But there’s that big word again: 'if'. United have already had plenty of chances to capitalise on the mistakes of their rivals this season and failed to take them.

Credit where it's due, though. This time United took full advantage thanks to Rangnick's bold move and that is why the celebrations at the full-time whistle – in the stands and on the pitch – were so passionate.

Rangnick was congratulated by his staff, while the players celebrated with each other and the fans, with even Ronaldo sticking around to revel in the atmosphere rather than darting straight down the tunnel.

This wasn't just a huge three points for United. It was a total mood-changer and the onus is now on Rangnick and his players to build on it.