Manager David Moyes sent on Noble in the third minute of injury time to take a penalty and rescue a point after former West Ham loan star Jesse Lingard had put Manchester United ahead with an 89th-minute goal.
Noble was hardly prepared once the penalty decision was confirmed following a VAR review. The 34-year-old was still wearing his tracksuit and bib when Moyes asked him to step up.
The captain went in cold and his penalty showed it, telegraphed and struck at a perfect height for United keeper David De Gea. It was safe and soft from Noble, but the blame lies with Moyes.
Noble’s team-mates were quick to voice their support.
“We feel sorry for him and we know that on another day he would score. This is football,” said Kurt Zouma, who shone on his home debut.
“He’s experienced enough to take any penalty and we know the next one he will score for sure.”
Jarrod Bowen, who impressed leading the line in place of the suspended Michail Antonio, added: “You ask anyone about West Ham, and they say Mark Noble.
“He is the face of this club and he has been for years. Today was nothing. He has come on and hit the target, and it’s a good save. It’s a 50/50 chance when you take a penalty, and these things happen in football unfortunately.”
The penalty records of Noble and De Gea must have been playing on Moyes’s mind as Declan Rice collected the ball and readied himself to take the penalty. Rice had scored one spot-kick and missed one last season, while West Ham had failed to score with three of their last four penalties before Sunday, Noble having watched from the sidelines for the previous attempts.
He had not missed one since December 2016, while De Gea had failed to save the last 40 he had faced. For Moyes, this felt a safe bet.
The Scot checked whether Noble was up for it and pressed on, piling the pressure on his captain. It ended up being a bad call from a usually risk-averse manager.
West Ham’s penalty woes
Last five spot-kicks
Mark Noble vs Manchester United, Sep 19, missed
Michail Antonio vs Newcastle, Aug 15, missed
Declan Rice vs West Brom, May 19, missed
Jesse Lingard vs Newcaste, April 17, scored
Jesse Lingard vs Leeds United, March 8, missed
Before the late chaos at the London Stadium, there was plenty to enjoy about West Ham’s performance.
Despite being without talisman Antonio, the Hammers went toe-to-toe with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side.
Zouma, having impressed on his first start in Europe since joining the Hammers from Chelsea, was dominant at the back, relishing the battle with Cristiano Ronaldo, who cancelled out Said Benrahma’s deflected opener when he got ahead of Aaron Cresswell to shoot at Lukasz Fabianski and then tapped in the follow-up.
Rice and Tomas Soucek, both of whom would have fancied themselves to score from the penalty spot, dominated midfield, while Bowen and Pablo Fornals were electric on the break.
It was a clear change in approach from Moyes in games against his former club. Last season saw the Scot take on United with a back five on both occasions in the League, sitting back and hoping before losing.
Here his players were on the front foot but they just ran out of steam in the closing minutes before the late penalty drama.
Sunday brought the same result as last season’s fixture but there was a vastly different feeling at the end. The Hammers can draw on plenty of positives for Wednesday’s rematch at Old Trafford in the Carabao Cup.