Sam Allardyce paid tribute to an outstanding team performance, as runaway Barclays Premier League leaders Manchester United twice had to battle back from a goal behind, to scramble a 2-2 draw at the Boleyn Ground.

After Antonio Valencia cancelled out a Ricardo Vaz Te diving header, Mohamed Diame's belter from the edge of the box had looked set to earn the Hammers another famous victory against Sir Alex Ferguson's men.

But with 13 minutes still to play, Shinji Kagawa's curler came back off both posts, allowing Robin van Persie to slam home the rebound and rescue the Reds, just as he had done in January in the FA Cup third round.

Replays subsequently showed the Dutch marksman was in an offside position and Big Sam was understandably aggrieved to see his side denied in such a fashion.

He told West Ham TV: "It was just an outstanding performance from all the players that took part, I can't praise them enough. We've played like this most of the season.

"The outstanding goals that we scored, especially the second goal, should have brought us an outstanding victory against the leaders Manchester United. And sadly, the linesman's decision has denied us a famous victory.

"Van Persie's goal was offside. He was in an offside position when the ball was struck, it hit the post, it came to him and he's put it in the net. It's a famous victory that has slipped away from us. But it remains a fantastic point and a fantastic performance."

Though resilient defensive displays have been the order of the day in recent weeks, a return to the Boleyn Ground saw Big Sam's troops revert to their fluent and stylish offensive best. That change in tack was every bit in evidence in West Ham's fine goals, strikes that the Hammers boss felt were worthy of settling the contest.

Big Sam continued: "We broke brilliantly, very quickly and got the ball out to Matt Jarvis, who's showing his worth more and more the longer the season goes. It's a super cross, and Vaz Te, coming in from the opposite side to Andy Carroll, gets a well-earned goal. I think that was deserved at the time.

"We only slipped up twice in the first half and we managed to defend the first, but not the second, where they scored. But Mo's wonder goal deserved to be a winning goal. The build-up in the corner from Vaz Te, the first-time turn by Mo, the dummy and then the smash. It's a good job Kevin Nolan saw it going in and he just leant on the defender, so it could go past him and into the bottom corner.

"After that, you know you're going to be put under some pressure from Manchester United but to lose a goal like that, when it shouldn't have stood, is hard to take."

Tough to take it might be, but the Hammers will no doubt be in confident mood come the visit of Wigan Athletic on Saturday, after running the leaders so very close. With this being a third game in eight days, Big Sam intends to use his squad to good effect, just as he did with three midfield changes in the second half against Manchester United.

"Mo and Kevin ran their socks off today" he added. "We didn't want to lose this game. It would have been bitterly disappointing had we lost it, so we put on some fresh legs, with Taylor and Collison. And Matt, of course, had a really good chance when he pinched the ball off Rio Ferdinand and he should have done an awful lot better than he did.

"We'll look at the squad and use it accordingly and hopefully we can continue this run. I think we 've only lost two in nine matches now, even if it's three draws on the trot."

Wigan Athletic