Match Report: Robin Van Persie denies Joe Cole his winning return for West Ham United against Manchester United

West Ham United 2 Manchester United 2: The prodigal son is back at Upton Park but late – and brilliant – intervention from United substitute takes the shine off Joe's homecoming party

Upton Park

The prodigal son made a triumphant return but was denied his deserved reward here yesterday despite creating both goals for James Collins as West Ham came within a couple of minutes of knocking the Premier League leaders Manchester United out of the  FA Cup.

Joe Cole, who left Upton Park nine years ago to seek his fortune with Chelsea, was reported to have taken a drop in wages from £90,000 a week at Liverpool to one third of that in order to return to his spiritual home, where he made his debut as an FA Cup substitute in 1999.

He earned an ovation when substituted with 13 minutes to play and West Ham deservedly leading 2-1, but Robin van Persie, a late substitute, equalised right at the death to earn United a replay that had seemed beyond them after a patchy display.

So West Ham were denied one of their famous cup victories over a club their supporters have never cared for, to follow Paolo di Canio’s winner at Old Trafford in 2001 and the semi-final victory of 1964.  An absorbing tie was watched by a capacity crowd that included David Beckham, prompting speculation in some quarters that he, too, might be making a return to east London, although he has always said he would never play for any English club other than United.

Sam Allardyce, West Ham’s disappointed manager, said: “It was a great performance and we almost feel like we’ve lost. You’ve never beaten Manchester United until the final whistle goes, but we are still in the hat. It’s a fantastic debut for Joe but the whole team played really well.”

Cole was one of five changes made by the home side, starting on the left of midfield where he was once tipped to be the saviour of English football. He roamed to good effect and was always a threat when coming inside and crossing, as the  goals would emphasise.

Sir Alex Ferguson had changed more than half of his Manchester United team, the one surprise being that with Chris Smalling starting at right-back, Rafael da Silva played in midfield where he was an even more enthusiastic attacker than normal, playing a crucial role in the opening goal. That formed part of a thunderous first half-hour in which each team had one effort cleared off the line and then scored.

After 11 minutes, Jack Collison took a corner that Alou Diarra met with a firm header kept out by Paul Scholes. United replied in kind within eight minutes; a left-wing corner, an equally powerful header by Nemanja Vidic and Dan Potts, the young full-back returning on loan from Colchester United, blocked on the line.

Goals did not seem far away and two duly materialised in the space of five minutes. United’s was the result of a fine first-time passing move down the right in which Javier Hernandez played a one-two with Rafael and crossed low for Tom Cleverley to side-foot neatly inside the far post. There was barely time for Scholes to collect one of his regular bookings – for a typically wild tackle on Collison – before West Ham were level. Ricardo Vaz Te fed Joe Cole, who crossed perfectly for Collins to head past David De Gea.

 With Van Persie, ominously for West Ham, limbering up, from the start of the second half the pace picked up again. Joe Cole shot over the bar and at the other end Cleverley did the same. When the home side went in front just before the hour it was remarkably via the same combination as before. Joe Cole crossed from an almost identical position and once more Collins rose highest, with Vidic again not close enough to him.

The home crowd were in raptures; Ferguson responded by sending on Antonio Valencia and Van Persie for and Scholes and Hernandez.

The chances of United forcing a replay seemed to have disappeared when, first Danny Welbeck, then Ryan Giggs headed over the bar.

But with four minutes of added time having been indicated to the home crowd’s dismay, Giggs, who had come on for Smalling, sent a wonderful floated pass to the Dutchman who went past James Tomkins and shot into the far corner.

“The pass from Giggs and the first touch from Robin and his finish were absolutely world class,” said a relieved Ferguson.

West Ham (4-4-2): Jaaskelainen; Demel, Collins, Tomkins, Potts; J Cole (Taylor, 78), Collison, Nolan, Vaz Te (Jarvis, 61); C Cole, Diarra (Noble, 74).

Manchester United: (4-4-2): De Gea; Smalling (Giggs,78), Evans, Vidic, Buttner; Da Silva, Scholes (Valencia, 68) Cleverley, Kagawa; Hernandez (Van Persie, 68), Welbeck.

Referee: Martin Atkinson.

Man of the match: Joe Cole (West Ham)

Match rating: 8/10

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

Open letter to David Cameron

Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

You don't say!

Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

So what is Mubi?

Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

The hardest job in theatre?

How to follow Kevin Spacey
Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

This human tragedy has been brewing for years

EU states can't say they were not warned
Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

Women's sportswear

From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

Clinton's clothes

Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders