The Manchester United midfielder, who shone on loan for West Ham last season, broke the hearts of those who gave him such a warm welcome as he netted an 89th-minute winner in a chaotic finish in east London, with David de Gea saving an injury-time penalty which Mark Noble was sent on solely to take.
David Moyes has got so much right with his rather low risk approach at West Ham, but despite their previous penalty problems he hit a rare bum note here with a bold call which ultimately failed.
Noble had not missed from the spot since December 2016, against Burnley, but to introduce the captain in such a situation was highly questionable.
Before that moment there had been so much to like about the performance from West Ham, who took a first half lead through Said Benrahma’s deflected goal. For the most part the hosts showed class, intent and fight to take Manchester United to task before the class from the visiting bench and, perhaps, the effects of European travels in the week started to set in for those in claret and blue.
There had been clamour all summer for West Ham to bring Lingard back to Stratford after his run of nine goals in 16 games on loan last season, but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Manchester United put their foot down early on, insisted he would not leave. Lingard considered a return but was in truth always focused on performing at Manchester United, despite knowing it would mean far less time on the pitch.
The competition for places in Solskjaer’s squad means Lingard has to take his chances when they come, and the 28-year-old did so in some fashion, cutting past an otherwise faultless Kurt Zouma to bend the winner past Lukasz Fabianski, all after being given a loud round of applause from the home support upon his introduction from the bench.
“I got a brilliant reception,” said Lingard. “I had a good time here but I have to move on with Man United and do my best with Man United.”
After what many will feel was an inevitable return for Lingard, the chaos began. West Ham were awarded their injury time spot kick after a VAR review on Luke Shaw’s blatant handball. Declan Rice claimed the ball and was ready to take centre stage before Moyes sent Noble on. With his record from the spot and De Gea’s string of 40 consecutive penalties conceded stretching back over five years, a leveller and a point felt inevitable, but the Spaniard saved and Noble could only clap his hands over his face.
West Ham’s unbeaten start to the season was ended but few would have begrudged them a point from this enthralling encounter.
There had been frustration from the support and within the squad at times when facing up against the bigger sides last season. Moyes elected to play a back five against Manchester United in both Premier League meetings last season and suffered defeat on both occasions. Here there was a marked change of mindset.
There was no sitting back as in games past. West Ham were brave and in the face of their visitors, Rice and Tomas Soucek were controlling Paul Pogba and Bruno Fernandes in midfield while Jarrod Bowen, Benrahma and Pablo Fornals were threatening on the break. The Hammers gave United quite the game until they could match them no longer, legs fading and dropping deeper in the final ten minutes.
Solskjaer simply had better options and fresher players, though Moyes will know his late call could have cost the point.