MANCHESTER, England (Reuters) - Manchester United stayed in a commanding position to finish in the Premier League top four after they ground out a 1-0 home win over West Ham United on Sunday thanks to a second-half own goal by central defender Craig Dawson.
The result left United second on 57 points from 29 games, 14 adrift of Manchester City who have played a game more, while West Ham stayed fifth on 48 points from 28 matches, three behind fourth-placed Chelsea on with a game in hand.
United were missing injured strikers Anthony Martial and Edinson Cavani plus long-term casualty Paul Pogba and manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was pleased with a gritty performance after Mason Greenwood hit the post twice for the hosts.
"We know West Ham are challenging to get in the top four so it was a big result and we kept a clean sheet again," Solskjaer told Sky Sports.
"As expected, they are always going to make it hard for you. We could have been more comfortable towards the end as we had a few decent chances to finish it off."
Aside from the woodowrk, United were kept at bay by a pair of fine saves from goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski, but they ground out the victory as Dawson turned an inswinging Bruno Fernandes corner into his own net in the 53rd minute.
Fabianski tipped Greenwood's shot onto the outside of the post in the first half and, after United took the lead, clawed a first-time Bruno Fernandes shot out of the bottom right corner.
Greenwood rattled the post again after a darting solo run from his own half in the 77th minute as the home side looked to exploit gaps with West Ham throwing men forward.
West Ham offered nothing up front as United held out comfortably and the outcome left Solskjaer relishing a pivotal week for United ahead of the international break.
They visit AC Milan in the return leg of their Europa league last-16 tie on Thursday after a 1-1 Old Trafford draw, followed by an FA Cup quarter-final clash at Leicester City next Sunday.
"Big week - Europa League and FA Cup - so we're looking forward to it. Hopefully get a few players back and put a good performance in," said the Norwegian.
West Ham boss David Moyes, returning to his old club where he has never won in 14 league visits, pointed out the London club's ambitions had grown after an impressive run of form.
"We are getting greedy now because we have enjoyed that feeling of winning. I don't enjoy coming here and losing 1-0 which shows how far we have come. I'm disappointed with it but it shows we are doing much better."
(Writing by Zoran Milosavljevic; Editing by Ken Ferris)