West Ham bid an unforgettable farewell to the Boleyn Ground as 112 years at Upton Park ended with a remarkable comeback victory against Manchester United.
Unseemly pre-match behaviour and a 45-minute delay due to the visitors’ late arrival was hardly the ideal start, but that was soon forgotten as a wonderful 2,398th and final match before the Hammers’ summer move to the Olympic Stadium.
Louis van Gaal’s men looked set to be the party-poopers after Anthony Martial’s second-half brace cancelled out Diafra Sakho’s early effort, only for Michail Antonio and Winston Reid to secure West Ham a 3-2 win on a breathless and emotional evening.
This was quite the farewell party and one which kick-starts West Ham’s hopes of European qualification, while the turnaround saw United blow the chance of usurping rivals Manchester City in the final Champions League berth ahead of the Barclays Premier League finale on Sunday.
It was a night nobody at Upton Park will ever forget and certainly went a long way to making up for the pre-match incidents outside the ground, where the late-arriving United bus was hit by glass bottles and other missiles. One police officer and a member of the public received minor injuries in the trouble that made way for a far more positive atmosphere inside Upton Park.
The home side needed just ten minutes to go ahead when play eventually got under way at 8.30pm. Manuel Lanzini’s smart cross from the left found Sakho, whose curling strike clipped Daley Blind and beat David de Gea in front of the Sir Trevor Brooking Stand.
After the break the fans in the Bobby Moore Stand tried to wind up De Gea by refusing to give the ball back in the 51st minute. When he finally took his goal-kick, though, Marcus Rashford gathered the ball and played in Juan Mata, whose cutback was directed home by Martial. A water bottle appeared to be thrown De Gea’s way as he celebrated in front of the home fans.
Martial cleared an Andy Carroll header off the line but it was Darren Randolph’s goal rather than the Red Devils’ that the ball would head into in the 72nd minute. Play was broken up in the middle and Rashford played the ball out to Martial, whose burst took him past Reid and the striker’s cross-shot beat the West Ham goalkeeper at the near post.
Four minutes later the mood swung wildly. Payet’s free-kick may have been blocked but he collected the loose ball and crossed for Antonio to power a header past De Gea.
Things would get better still in the 80th minute as Payet swung in a free-kick that Reid got to with just enough power to beat De Gea, sending the home faithful wild.