With Manchester United having the title pretty much sewn up and West Ham safe from relegation, the floodlight fixture between the Red Devils and the Hammers could easily have been lackluster. That was not the case and right from kick off it was West Ham who started on the front foot. With less than five minutes on the clock Nolan came close to putting the Hammers in front, Carroll found time and space on the edge of the box to turn and put a shot away and with Nolan’s touch the ball rolled inches from the post. United attempted to gain a foothold in the game, but with the pace of Matt Jarvis on the counter attack West Ham continued to pose a threat. It wasn’t long before West Ham’s attacking threat produced a goal, United were caught out on the counter, an inviting cross by Jarvis was met by the head of Carroll which fell into the path of Ricardo Vaz Te to tuck home and give Sam Allardyce’s men a deserved lead.
United showed glimpses of their Champions quality, and having settled into the game it wasn’t long before chances were created. Clever link up play outside the box created space for Evra to run along the line, this time however his pull back was met by a West Ham player. Manchester United didn’t wait around too long and were back on level terms soon. Once again it came from the left hand side, Kagawa this time squared the ball straight into Valencia’s path who could do little but put the ball in the net. It was United who started to find their feet and began to give West Ham problems, Kagawa and Evra linking up well on the left hand side producing crosses for Van Persie and company. With one minute added time signaled, a corner for West Ham produced a period of lively action. Rooney and Carroll provided the childish nagging behavior before the corner was taken, yet it was Carroll who jumped late into De Gea and clattered him to the ground leaving Alex Ferguson fuming. The half time whistle blew ending the half with controversy, an obviously displeased Ferguson disappeared down the tunnel, with Allardyce undoubtedly being the happiest manager of the two with the score so far.
With less than one minute of the second half gone Phil Jones wasted a glorious chance for Manchester United, a delightful ball found Van Persie who headed the ball down for Jones a few yards out, but most importantly slightly behind him and the chance was gone. The feud between De Gea and Carroll was not gone though, tussles at the other end of the pitch between them ended in a yellow card for Carroll. But it was him who nearly had the last laugh, a shot from long range by Carroll came close to catching De Gea out, who thankfully was not called into action for it. Yet it was a beauty from Diame who put West Ham back in front, from the edge of the 18 yard box the ball was hit so sweetly it flew past all the United players and past De Gea into the bottom left corner of the net. The tempo for the second half was set, and a whirlwind of action in both penalty boxes followed. United were nearly level again through Van Persie if not for an excellent reaction save from Jaaskelainen. West Ham took a sharp intake of breath again from a United corner, it came to Rooney in the box and his shot was touched by Jaaskelainen before being kicked off the line by O’neil. It wasn’t long before West Ham were praising their goalkeeper once again, this time a brilliant save to deny Van Persie from a header.
With Giggs on the field, United continued to dominate possession and before long the possession paid off. A shot by Kagawa bounced off the post straight into Van Persie’s feet who confidently tucked the ball away. It was to be Kagawa’s final contribution as he made way for Hernandez from the bench, and United looked to turn the pressure up even more and fight for the win. Manchester United continued to press and if not for some solid and brave defending from West Ham would’ve taken the lead. The nerves were felt inside Upton Park when four minutes of added time was indicated, crosses and corners continued to harass the West Ham penalty area, it was all hands to the pump with Carroll contributing some important defensive work. A full blown physical battle the whole ninety minutes made for an exhilarating game which denied United the title, just for the moment anyway.