Red Devils pile on misery for Hammers
Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson made three changes to the side who drew at Fulham last weekend with Luis Nani, Ryan Giggs and Wayne Rooney coming in for Ji-Sung Park, Antonio Valencia and Javier for Hernandez.
After defeat to Bolton Wanderers last weekend West Ham United manager Avram Grant made two changes to his starting line up with Jonathan Spector and Luis Boa Morte coming in for Pablo Barrera and Frederic Piquionne.
The visitors’ defensive formation was making it hard for Manchester United to create any clear cut chances in the opening stages of the match but in the 11th minute Rooney tested Robert Green for the first time. Dimitar Berbatov brought the ball forward into the West Ham half before playing a neat ball into Rooney, the England striker came across the penalty area but his 20 yard strike was straight at Green who held on well.
Six minutes later Manchester United came very close to opening the scoring through Nani. Berbatov played a pass into the path of the Portuguese winger who was brought down by Spector 20 yards from goal. Nani stepped up to take the free kick himself but his swerving strike flew just over the top of Green’s crossbar.
The home side continued to pile on the pressure and in the 24th minute Nani was denied by the crossbar. A long cross field pass from Vidic was aimed at Berbatov, the Bulgarian striker back heeled the ball into the path of Nani who struck a 20 yard shot towards goal. Robert Green appeared to let the shot through his hands but he managed to get enough on the ball to push it onto the crossbar before it bounced away to safety.
Four minutes later West Ham tested Van Der Sar for the first time through the lively Kieron Dyer. Carlton Cole won the ball on the left wing and the loose ball fell into the path of Dyer who came inside his marker before firing just wide of Van Der Sar’s right hand post.
Manchester United’s pressure was finally rewarded in the 33rd minute from the penalty spot. A cross field pass from Scholes found Giggs on the left wing, the ball was instantly controlled by Giggs before he jinked past Spector and into the box where the American defenders challenge brought the Welsh winger down and referee Mark Clattenberg had no hesitation in awarding the home side a penalty. After Nani’s penalty miss last week the opportunity fell to Rooney and from 12 yards the England striker sent Robert Green the wrong way for his first goal of the season.
The home side began to really test the visitors’ goal and with five minutes of the half remaining Green was forced into an excellent save by Darren Fletcher. A left wing cross from Giggs was cleared into the path of the Scotland midfielder whose 25 yard strike looked destined for the top corner only for Green to touch it over the bar with his fingertips.
In the first minute of injury time Nani had his third opportunity of the match but again he failed to extend the home side’s lead. Scholes and Giggs won the ball in the centre of midfield before Giggs chipped a pass into the path of the Portuguese winger. Nani controlled the ball well and with just Green to beat he looked to lob the ball into the net but got too much on it and his effort sailed over the bar.
Off the mark| Rooney gives Manchester United the lead from the penalty spot
Manchester United began the second in the same way the first had finished and just five minutes into the half they doubled their lead through Nani. A ball into Rooney from Fletcher was neatly flicked by the England striker into the path of the Portuguese winger who jinked inside Gabbidon before firing past green from the edge of the penalty area
The home side were now playing some very attractive fast paced football and three minutes later Rooney had the chance to double his tally for the match after another flowing move. Flecther played a ball into Nani who in turn found Berbatov, the Bulgarian flicked the ball into the path of Rooney but as he got to the edge of area and was about to unleash his shot Gabbidon produced a fantastic challenge to deny the striker.
West Ham had begun the second half very defensively but the second Manchester United goal appeared to spark them into life and in the 56th minute they created their best chance of the match through Kieron Dyer. Cole played a pass into Julien Faubert who flicked the ball into the path of Dyer but his right foot shot hit the outside of Van Der Sar’s left hand post.
However six minutes later the home side created another chance, this time for Scholes from 18 yards. Patrice Evra made a good run down the left wing before delivering a low cross into Berbatov at the back post, the Bulgarian touched the ball into Scholes but his low shot was straight at Green who saved easily.
Manchester United extended their lead in the 69th minute through Berbatov after yet another flowing move from the home side. Fletcher found John O’Shea in space on the right wing; the Irish full back rolled the ball into Nani inside the penalty area before chipping a cross to the back post where an acrobatic volley by Berbatov fired the ball into the back of the net.
With five minutes of the match remaining West Ham created the final chance of the match which they were again unable to take. Scott Parker made a good run down the left wing before playing a neat pass inside to substitute Pablo Barrera. But the Mexico international couldn’t get the ball out from under his feet and his shot sailed harmlessly over the bar from the edge of the penalty area.