WEST HAM 0, MANCHESTER UNITED 2
Manchester United defied their critics with a 2-0 win over a predictable West Ham side at Upton Park with a brace of goals by Wayne Rooney, including a contender for goal of the season from the half way line, which took him to third in the all-time United goal scoring records.
With the visit of local rivals City coming up on Tuesday manager David Moyes raised eyebrows by selecting a side missing Javier Hernandez and Danny Welbeck despite also missing the injured Robin Van Persie. With Rio Ferdinand and Chris Smalling injured plus Nemanja Vidic unavailable due to suspension, Moyes also stated his intention to use Michael Carrick as an emergency centre back with Marouane Fellaini helping out although the makeshift defensive line weren’t asked many questions by a very one dimensional Hammers attack.
In all there were six changes from the side that famously beat Olympiacos 3-0 on Wednesday to progress to the quarter finals of the Champions League 3-2 on aggregate.
Alexander Buttner, Juan Mata, Darren Fletcher, Marouane Fellaini, Ashley Young and Shinji Kagawa were all given the nod. Patrice Evra, Ryan Giggs, Rio Ferdinand, Antonio Valencia, Welbeck and Van Persie were replaced.
Interestingly, United played with greater balance without Van Persie and with Mata and Kagawa starting from deeper in midfield.
United could not have gotten off to a much better start when Wayne Rooney, up front, saw West Ham ‘keeper Adrian off his line when he got the ball off Young in the eighth minute. With United legend David Beckham, born locally in Leytonstone, watching from the stand Rooney outmuscled James Tomkins and volleyed a 54 yard shot from half way over the head of the retreating Spanish custodian, and with a single bounce in the six yard box the ball lodged into the roof of the net.
In a weekend full of goals it was the one that brought back memories of Beckham’s own strike from half way against Wimbledon that foxed Neil Sullivan at Selhurst Park in 1996 that might just have topped them all. It was always going to draw a smile from the face of Beckham as TV cameras inevitably found their way to him after the goal.
Rooney later went on to declare his effort much better than the one that announced the arrival of the future England captain but in truth it was effectively the high point of a match that failed to live up to the standards set by earlier games today.
Rooney almost set up Mata for United’s second goal but got to score that himself in the 33rd minute of an otherwise forgettable game with a simple tap-in after Mark Noble’s poor clearance of Young’s cross.
That goal moved the Liverpudlian to 212 goals in 436 games for the Reds, overtaking Jack Rowley to go third in the United all time goalscoring charts. With a new five and a half year deal signed, it seems inevitable that Rooney will be rewriting the history books at Old Trafford in due course. He is just 25 goals behind Denis Law and 37 goals behind the record holder Sir Bobby Charlton.