Manchester City may have done Manchester United’s new manager Erik ten Hag a big favour by drawing with West Ham on Sunday as the result could have saved the Red Devils from having to play in next season’s Europa Conference League. City were 2-0 down at half-time against the Hammers but came back to draw the game 2-2.
United are sixth in the Premier League table and were three points ahead of West Ham at the start of Sunday, having played one game more than the east Londoners. A win for the Hammers would have taken them above the 13-time Premier League champions courtesy of their superior goal difference.
And at halftime at the London Stadium it appeared West Ham were about to leapfrog their rivals. The Hammers enjoyed a sensational first half as they stunned Pep Guardiola’s side in the 24th minute when Jarrod Bowen opened the scoring. And Bowen found the back of the net for a second time on the stroke of halftime.
City regrouped at the interval and looked a completely different side after the break as Jack Grealish soon pulled a goal back for the visitors. The Citizens then drew level with just over 20 minutes remaining as home defender Vladmir Coufal headed Riyad Mahrez’s free-kick into his own net. And City could have even won the match in the dying minutes, only for Mahrez to see a late penalty saved by Lukasz Fabianski.
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Instead, Ten Hag would probably be more willing to lead his side in search of Europa League glory. After all, the winner of the second-tier competition qualifies for the Champions League, which is United’s ultimate aim. And there would be more prestige and more prize money on offer in the Europa League.
United missed out on the Europa League trophy last season after they were beaten on penalties by Villarreal in the final, although they did win the competition under Mourinho in 2017. And it looks like they’ll get a chance to win it for a second time thanks to City’s late comeback in the capital.
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