MAN UNITED 1, WEST HAM 0
Wayne Rooney delivered the knockout blow as Manchester United defeated West Ham in their FA Cup with Budweiser, third-round replay at Old Trafford.
It was a case of normal service resuming for Rooney on his return to action after a five match injury lay off through a knee injury.
Rooney made an immediate impact finding the net little over eight minutes into his comeback for what proved to be the decisive goal of a lukewarm tie.
And Rooney’s late penalty miss mirrored United’s night as they wasted numerous chances to win by a wider margin.
While United were in control throughout, they still had to endure some anxious moments at the back as defensively they looked fragile and more robust opponents could well have punished them.
It was a much changed United team with Rafael da Silva the lone survivor from the side which kicked off against Liverpool on Sunday.
Rooney and Nani, however, were returning after injury while Javier Hernandez and Ryan Giggs were also given run outs.
Sir Alex Ferguson had plenty in reserve, though, as warming the bench were the likes of goal-den boy Robin van Persie, Danny Welbeck, Shinji Kagawa, Michael Carrick, Paul Scholes and Rio Ferdinand.
West Ham even had a weakened line up as captain Kevin Nolan and Matt Jarvis were on the bench and Mark Noble not involved in any capacity.
Rooney took little over eight minutes before resuming normal service. His ninth goal of the campaign was a simple effort after Anderson and Hernandez carved open the Hammers’ defence enabling Rooney to slide in to convert the Mexican’s square ball from inside the six-yard box.
United ought to have built a larger first-half lead after squandering a number of other chances in a largely pedestrian paced opening period.
Nani had a shot cleared off the line, Chris Smalling directed a header straight at keeper Jussi Jaaskelainen, Alex Buttner’s angled shot hit the outside of the upright while Rooney brought a decent save from the Hammers’ keeper.
United had a let off soon after the restart when Rafael was lucky his clear handball was not seen by referee Phil Dowd.
Hernandez ought to have found the net early in the second half after dispossessing Alou Diarra, but blazed over when you would have expected him to find the net.
United were awarded a 79th minutes spot kick when Jordan Spence handled a Giggs’ cross, but United’s penalty jinx struck again as Rooney blazed over the crossbar.
Luckily it didn’t prove a costly error as United booked a fourth-round tie against Fulham at Old Trafford later this month.