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LONDON, Sep 19: Cristiano Ronaldo began the comeback as Manchester United won 2-1 at West Ham thanks to Mark Noble missing a penalty in stoppage time for the hosts straight after being brought off the bench on Sunday.
The club captain was sent on by manager David Moyes to take the penalty after Luke Shaw handled in the area.
The long-serving midfielder, who retires at the end of the season, had not missed a spot kick since December 2016, but he was denied a winner by United goalkeeper David De Gea.
It was a dramatic end to a thrilling match that saw super-sub Jesse Lingard score a stunning last-minute winner for United against the club he starred for while on loan last season.
Ronaldo had earlier scored his fourth goal in three matches since returning to United, cancelling out Said Benrahma’s deflected opener for the hosts.
The result sees United climb to second place in the table while Moyes’ team are in eighth position.
“It was the last minute, I made the save. Going through my head was ‘save the ball’. It’s a massive three points for us,” De Gea said. “It was a really tough game, both teams had good chances, again a great goal from Jesse. In the dressing room we said the three points were the most important thing.”
Before kickoff, both sets of players, coaches and supporters gave a minute’s applause in memory of former West Ham and England striker Jimmy Greaves, who died on Sunday aged 81.
The hosts had the first chance after 25 minutes when Jarrod Bowen forced De Gea into a save with his feet before Tomas Soucek blazed over the bar.
West Ham goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski then produced a fine stop to tip Bruno Fernandes’ shot onto the post.
A minute later, West Ham went up the other end and opened the scoring after Benrahma’s shot from outside of the box deflected in off Raphael Varane.
It only took five minutes for United to grab an equaliser when Ronaldo tapped home from close range after Fabianski had spilled his initial flick from Fernandes’ cross.
Both sides had good chances to go ahead before the break but Fabianski saved from Ronaldo while Nikola Vlasic missed the target from inside the area.
Ronaldo almost grabbed his second a minute into the second half but Fabianski raced out and denied him with a great save.
Late on, United had two penalty appeals turned down when Ronaldo thought he was brought down by Vladimir Coufal and Aaron Cresswell.
However, with a minute remaining, Lingard stepped up with a stunning curling strike to put the visitors ahead.
But in stoppage-time, West Ham were awarded a penalty after a VAR review when the ball struck Shaw’s hand inside the box.
Noble was brought on to take the penalty but his spot kick was saved from De Gea to rescue the three points for United.
There was also a sense of redemption for Lingard, whose stray pass had given away Young Boys’ last-gasp winner in the Champions League on Tuesday.
“Mistakes happen in football, you have to overcome those things,” Lingard said. “I got a brilliant reception. I had a good time here but I have to move on with Man United and do my best.” (Agencies)