West Ham 1 Manchester United 1

Relief, a home draw, but it felt like a victory over Manchester United as Jermain Defoe snatched a deserved equaliser four minutes from the end of normal time.

There was a strong suggestion of offside about Defoe's goal, his second in the Premiership this season, but as the linesman might also have ruled out Ruud Van Nistelrooy's 37th minute opener, Hammers deserved a rare stroke of good fortune.

A 1-1 draw was the least Glenn Roeder's men deserved for a determined, cohesive performance, continuing where they left off in the second half in the 3-4 home defeat by Leeds the previous Sunday.

Unusually for a match between these two attack-minded sides, goalmouth chances were few and far between but Hammers defended solidly throughout, apart from a few first half jitters from keeper David James and a slip from Christian Dailly late on, and were unlucky not to take all three points.

Defoe thought he had given West Ham the lead midway through the first half, when he bundled the ball into an empty net after it cannoned back off the post from Joe Cole's header - the result of some enterprising play by Paolo Di Canio and Trevor Sinclair on the right flank.

But the linesman's flag went up, quite rightly as Defoe was in an offside position when Cole headed the ball initially, and it was referee Mark Halsey - and not the players in claret and blue shirts - who received the crowd's jeers at the half-time whistle.

The Hammers went in at the break a goal down after Van Nistelrooy gave United a fortunate lead. The Dutchman was in an offside position as Solskjaer received a pass on the left hand side of the penalty area, and may have also been the wrong side of the defence as he clipped the Norwegian's low cross past James from eight yards out.

At that stage, with Bolton Wanderers having won 4-2 at Leeds, Hammers had dropped to the foot of the table. But, enjoying the full vocal support of their fans from the first whistle until the last, West Ham had no intention of giving up without a fight.

With Di Canio, Cole and Carrick particularly impressive, and Defoe back to his lively, vibrant best, Hammers took the game to United in the second half. The young England striker Defoe caused Laurent Blanc and Wes Brown constant problems with his pace and movement all across the front line and almost brought Hammers level midway through the second half.

After running on to Trevor Sinclair's flick, his lob cleared Fabien Barthez but the crossbar saved United, who are still some way short of their vintage best.

Neither manager made a substitution and Roeder's faith in his starting line-up was repaid in the 86th minute. Carrick, who did very well in midfield alongside Edouard Cisse in the absence of the injured Steve Lomas, wriggled into the box. The ball broke to Di Canio, only to return to the feet of Carrick, who prodded it forward into the path of Defoe. Having got in behind Blanc, the striker only had to poke the ball into the net from seven yards as United hoped in vain for an offside flag that didn't come.

The relief was tangible as West Ham players celebrated wildly behind the goal at the Bobby Moore Stand end. Sebastien Schemmel threw himself into the lower tier and, swamped by fans, didn't re-emerge onto the pitch for a minute or two!

Those celebrations almost proved wildly premature, though, as James had to show international class to make THREE good saves in the space of a minute.

First, he came to the rescue of Dailly, who slipped and presented the ball at the feet of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, whose shot deflected off the diving keeper and behind for a corner.

Next the Hammers number one was at full stretch to save Blanc's close range header following a Ryan Giggs free-kick. The ball dropped near the goalline but as both Van Nistelrooy and Mikael Silvestre converged, James dived bravely at their feet to deny United an injury-time winner they did not deserve.

The desperately needed first home win of the season continues to elude Roeder after nine attempts but, by 5.45pm, West Ham had moved off the bottom, on goal difference and on this showing, further advancement can be expected.



3 - The first effort of the game is fired well wide by Paul Scholes from 25 yards out.

5 - Defoe collects on the left and skips into the box before turning Veron, who appears to foul the young striker near the byline. Referee Halsey awards a corner kick.

12 - Hammers come close to taking the lead, as Defoe finds Cole on the right with a superb crossfield pass and then sprints into the box to latch on to an excellent cross but is put off by the challenge of O'Shea, who concedes a corner.

13 - Defoe, causing the United defence all sorts of problems, runs towards goal but, rather than picking out the unmarked Cole, elects to feed Di Canio, who has strayed offside.

20 - A superb move down the right involving Schemmel, Di Canio and Sinclair sees the England man send over an inviting cross that Cole meets with a superb header that crashes against the post and rebounds out for Defoe, who has the simple task of bundling the ball over the line. However, the linesman's raised flag rules out the effort - a decision that is justified by a TV replay.

30 - Giggs breaks away on the counter attack and runs at Pearce before firing in a left foot shot that James does well to hold on to with Van Nistelrooy ready to pounce.

33 - After determined play by Carrick on the left, Defoe finds a yard of space on the edge of the area and unleashes a shot that is deflected just wide for a corner.

37 - GOAL. United take the lead against the run of play - and with more than a hint of fortune. Van Nistelrooy is in a clear offside position as Solskjaer receives the ball on the left hand side of the penalty area, and the Dutchman appears to be still offside when the Norwegian slides in a low cross for him to clip the ball over James and into the net. West Ham United 0 Manchester United 1.

39 - David James almosts gifts United a second, as he races out to claim a through-ball he could pick up, but decides to dribble out of his area and sees his left foot clearance blocked by Scholes and fed to Solskjaer who turns and fires in a snapshot that drifts just wide of an empty net.

Added time: 1 minute.

Half-time: West Ham United 0 Manchester United 1.

Second Half:

50 - Van Nistelrooy lays the ball back for Scholes to shoot just wide from 20 yards out.

54 - After an amazing goalmouth scramble that sees Man United fail to clear the ball three times, Sinclair's weak volley is blocked and finally hacked away from danger.

55 - Carrick's fierce low shot from the edge of the area is deflected away for a corner.

63 - Di Canio attempts a quick corner to Cole on the edge of the area, who nods on for Sinclair and collects a return before firing a volley high and wide.

67 - Solskjaer breaks free on the right and fires in a low shot that flies just wide of the far post.

67 - Sinclair's flick on from James' long kick releases Defoe, who beats Barthez with a fantastic chip that agonisingly hits the top of the bar and goes over for a goal-kick.

73 - After Dailly is harshly penalised for a foul on Van Nistelrooy some 25 yards out, Veron steps up and curls the free-kick just inches past the post.

75 - Fortune booked for foul on Cole.

81 - Cisse booked for foul on Giggs.

82 - Defoe escapes his marker on the left but fires his shot wide of the far post.

84 - Cole attempts a lob from the edge of the area but the ball sails just over the bar.

86 - GOAL! Hammers finally get the equaliser they deserve, as Carrick and Di Canio combine on the edge of the area to thread the ball through to Defoe, who pokes it past Barthez for his second league goal of the season to set up a rousing finale at Upton Park.

89 - Dailly's slip lets Solskjaer in, but James thankfully rescues the day with a brave save at the Norwegian's free kick.

Added time: 1 minute.

90 - Di Canio booked for foul on Solskjaer.

90 - James again saves his team-mates with a superb double save to block a header from a free-kick and then grab the loose ball.

Full-time: West Ham United 1 Manchester United 1.