Manchester United needed two Paul Pogba penalties to stay in contention for a top-four Premier League finish by beating West Ham 2-1 at Old Trafford Saturday.
United had lost four of their previous five games in all competitions and were extremely fortunate to get back to winning ways as West Ham had a goal ruled out for offside, hit the crossbar and saw David de Gea make a wonder save to deny Michail Antonio giving them a late lead.
However, a much-needed win moved Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men up to fifth, at the expense of Arsenal, and to within two points of Chelsea, who are fourth and hold the final Champions League spot.
United were gifted a first-half lead when Robert Snodgrass’s clumsy challenge brought down Juan Mata and Pogba sent his first spot-kick down the middle of the goal.
West Ham were deservedly level four minutes into the second half when Felipe Anderson turned home at the back post, and the visitors went on to enjoy the better of the chances.
Antonio crashed a shot from range off the bar before De Gea produced a stunning save to claw the West Ham forward’s header to safety.
Within seconds of being saved by their captain, United had a second penalty 10 minutes from time when Ryan Fredericks chopped down Anthony Martial, and this time Pogba buried his penalty into the bottom corner.
Tottenham had no such strife despite missing Harry Kane, who is expected to miss the rest of the season due to ankle ligament damage.
Mauricio Pochettino’s men moved up to third thanks to Lucas Moura’s hat-trick in a 4-0 win over Huddersfield on Saturday.
While the title and fight for top-four places look set to go down to the wire, the relegation battle could be all but over should Brighton beat Cardiff on Tuesday.
The Welsh side are five points adrift of safety after a controversial 2-0 defeat to Burnley – Chris Wood netting twice for the hosts.