As for David Moyes’ Hammers, the performance was a reminder of Jesse Lingard’s importance to the club so soon after arriving – though the east Londoners can take heart from an improved second-half display.
In a first half short on quality, Lucasz Fabianski made a stunning stop to deny Mason Greenwood, while Marcus Rashford somehow headed wide when unmarked at the back post.
With Jesse Lingard ineligible to face his parent club, West Ham lacked fluidity and confidence on the ball going forward, creating little of note before Dawson’s own goal spurred them into life.
Moyes will be particularly frustrated at conceding such a soft goal given United were playing without an out-and-out centre forward, while it was a rare mistake from Dawson given how impressive he has been since joining the Hammers.
Scott McTominay got up in front of Dawson at the near post, but didn’t fully connect with Bruno Fernandes’ corner – and the ball struck Dawson’s head and cannoned into the net.
Fabianski then made his second excellent save of the night soon after to deny Fernandes from range, while West Ham grew into the game with attacking changes – but United again went close as Greenwood cracked an effort against the post with 12 minutes remaining.
Fortunately for United, West Ham could not make the breakthrough, and United saw out the result for three points to go second and boost their hopes of Champions League qualification.
For West Ham, it was another case of coming up just short – though Chelsea’s draw means the top four race is still very much on.