Luck was on Manchester United's side as Jose Mourinho's men made it six wins in a row in the Premier League with a 2-0 victory over West Ham on Monday. United made the advantage of playing with an extra man tell in the second half, with Juan Mata and Zlatan Ibrahimovic scoring to take the side level on points with Tottenham.
Fifth-placed Spurs can move three points clear again if they win their match on Wednesday, but it will be far from easy considering it will be against Chelsea. United, though, did their job well, thanks in no small part to the referee Mike Dean, who made a controversial decision of sending off Sofiane Feghouli in the 15th minute.
That, naturally, changed the entire course of the game, with West Ham, who had been the better side until then, eventually allowing Manchester United to fire in two goals past them, one of them an offside goal.
The sending off will be the talking point, with Dean showing a straight red card to Feghouli for what looked like a proper 50-50 challenge with Phil Jones. If anything, replays showed Jones might have been more culpable in the challenge even if the Manchester United man won the ball, with his reaction, after the coming together probably swaying the decision – Jones rolled along the ground dramatically, with Dean, after taking a bit of time, showing a straight red much to the horror of Slaven Bilic on the touchline.
Despite playing with a man less, though, West Ham did really well, going toe to toe with Manchester United, who struggled to create clearcut chances, apart from the one when Antonio Valencia allowed Darren Randolph to make an wonderful save with Jesse Lingard firing his rebound onto the post.
Michail Antonio should have put the home side in the lead in the second half when he ran clear, but the West Ham man fired his shot straight at the onrushing David De Gea, who had, in the first half, made a couple of outstanding saves as well.
Right after that missed opportunity, Manchester United took the lead with substitute Mata firing home clinically.
The fact that this was a second match in as many days and they were playing only with ten men showed, with West Ham conceding the second goal 12 minutes from time when a tired clearance from Pedro Obiang was charged down by Ander Herrera, with the ball falling to Ibrahimovic to lash in. The Manchester United striker, however, was clearly offside, but that rub of the green went Manchester United's way again, leaving Bilic and West Ham a frustrated bunch.