MAN UNITED 1, WEST HAM 0
Table-topping Manchester United finally rid themselves of the label of being notoriously slow starters in their victory against West Ham at Old Trafford.
Indeed, Robin van Persie went to the other extreme as he took only 32 seconds to give the Reds the lead with the quickest goal of the season in the Barclays Premier League.
The electrifying start didn’t mirror the Reds’ campaign so far in which they have fallen behind 12 times yet managed to win nine of those fixtures.
United maintained their position at the top of the table, even though it was a far-from-impressive showing against the Hammers.
Sir Alex Ferguson even admitted it was far from vintage United: “We didn’t play particularly well and it was a long night.
“We made a great start and should have kicked on. We had opportunities to finish them off, but give credit to West Ham.”
Ferguson pointed to the clean sheet as a positive praising the defensive displays of Jonny Evans, Chris Smalling and Rafael.
“If we keep clean sheets between now and January more often, it will give us a good foundation to go for the title,” Ferguson continued.
Dutchman van Persie produced one of the rare pieces of magic at the start to spin past Winston Reid before seeing his shot deflect off James Collins and loop over former Bolton Wanderers keeper Jussi Jaaskelainen as though in slow motion.
It was van Persie’s 12th goal of his debut campaign with the Reds but, sadly, was not to be the prelude to an avalanche of goals.
In fact it was a disappointing performance from the Reds who had Wayne Rooney in midfield where he was largely anonymous and was substituted by Danny Welbeck with 12 minutes left.
The mid-table Hammers rallied after falling behind and came close to equalising when Kevin Nolan, another former Bolton player,, back flicked into the side netting and Andy Carroll volleyed narrowly over.
Jaaskelainen was only occasionally threatened, though he pulled off terrific saves to keep out efforts from Javier Hernandez in the opening period and Rooney after an hour.
The match became increasingly scrappy and disjointed as United needed the cushion of a second goal because the Hammers were still in with a shout with only a one-goal deficit.
The Hammers produced plenty of endeavour, but they lacked a cutting edge to turn possession in the final third of the pitch into goals.