Harewood Strike Not Enough For Hammers

A GOAL from Marlon Harewood after barely a minute was not enough for Hammers against Manchester United, as strikes from Wayne Rooney and John O'Shea secured a 2-1 win for the Red Devils at Upton Park.

It was a blistering start from Hammers, Harewood giving Alan Pardew's side a fantastic start. But United needed all of their quality and experience to secure Sir Alex Ferguson's side a 2-1 victory.

Pards made just one change from the side that drew 1-1 at Spurs last week, Roy Carroll returning in goal against his former club to replace Shaka Hislop, who had deputised in the last five games.

That aside, it was as you were from White Hart Lane, teenage midfielder Mark Noble retained his place after an impressive Premier League debut and Anton Ferdinand lining-up against older brother Rio for the first time in a competitive match. Teddy Sheringham was named as captain against the club where he spent a trophy-laden spell between 1997 and 2001.

Before the game Bobby Charlton and Trevor Brooking both made moving tributes to Manchester United legend George Best, who sadly passed away the Friday before this game.

Then followed a rousing minute's applause for the Northern Ireland star, who is widely regarded as one of the greatest players ever to have played the game.

It certainly stirred up a magnificent atmosphere inside Upton Park, as a place well-used to mourning the passing of legends gave Best an incredible send off.

The atmosphere was still pulsing when Matty Etherington broke away down the left inside the first minute and crossed low for Marlon Harewood, who executed an instinctive finish to beat Edwin Van Der Sar at his near post and give West Ham United an incredible 1-0 lead against Manchester United.

Upton Park went wild, as the Hammers faithful cheered a magnificent start for Alan Pardew's men.

The tempo to Hammers play was incredible in the opening stages, but Ruud Van Nistelrooy did see a great chance to draw the visitors level denied by Carroll on 11 minutes.

A neat lay-off by Ji-Sung Park put the Dutch striker through but his low shot was tipped away by Carroll.

Moments later the Hammers goalkeeper produced an even better stop low to his left pushing a stinging first-time Paul Scholes shot away for a corner.

United were gaining a foot-hold in the game, but were lucky not to lose Mikael Silvestre when the centre-half pulled back Harewood clean through on goal. The Frenchman was let off with a caution by referee Steve Bennett and from the resulting free-kick Yossi Benayoun bent a 20-yard effort inches wide of the post.

Carroll was on hand to make another low, one-handed save when Wayne Rooney showed strength to hold off Danny Gabbidon and poise to fire goalwards from a tight angle.

This game had all the competitive edge of its billing, underlined when a crude challenge by Van Nistelrooy on Anton Ferdinand sparked a minor melee just outside the Hammers penalty area and earned the Dutchman a well-deserved booking.

Silvestre looked to be struggling against the physical presence of Harewood and on 35 minutes the French defender was replaced by right-back Gary Neville, with Wes Brown moving into central defence.

Carroll made another smart stop low-down from Rooney with five minutes left until half-time, just after Sheringham had sent a fizzing 20-yard volley zipping over Van Der Sar's crossbar.

Hammers were showing plenty of composure at the back in the face of a talented United strike-force and more than deserved their 1-0 half-time lead.

HT: 1-0

The second-half started with United upping the tempo and on 47 minutes Wayne Rooney scored the goal that brought the Red Devils level.

Park's pass split the Hammers defence, Rooney ran onto the ball, broke Tomas Repka's challenge, turned inside Anton Ferdinand and slotted under the advancing Carroll to make it 1-1.

Seven minutes later Rooney's next change, a stinging near-post drive was blocked by a congregation of claret and blue shirts, before the England wonder-kid mis-kicked from the rebound.

Rooney then one a corner off Danny Gabbidon and it was from that set-piece that United took the lead. Carroll came for the corner from the right only to beaten to the ball by John O'Shea, the United defender heading home from close range to make it 2-1.

Upton Park responded by creating a wall of noise to drive on their team, but it was United with all the play and Van Nistelrooy should have scored with a free header from Scholes' free-kick that flew just wide.

On 67 minutes a slip by Gabbidon gifted possession to Scholes and he fed the dangerous right-foot of Rooney, but this time Carroll was right behind a venemous strike.

Two minutes later a wonderful piece of invention by Van Nistelrooy very nearly added a third for United, his chip drifting over Carroll only to hit the underside of the bar and bounce to safety.

Needing to get back into the game, Pards sent on Bobby Zamora and Christian Dailly in place of Hayden Mullins and Sheringham, who had given all he could against his old club.

On 75 minutes Harewood had an opportunity on the angle, but could only shoot tamely at Van Der Sar. Before that Carroll had done well to spread himself at the feet of Van Nistelrooy.

Hammers were fighting hard to get back into the game, no one more so than Mark Noble who epitomised the determination that was being sung so loudly from the Upton Park stands.

United on the other hand were doing some fighting of their own, Rooney lashing out at Gabbidon after a tangle on the edge of the box, a reaction that earned the striker a booking.

Shaun Newton replaced Etherington with two minutes remaining, but it was United creating a great chance, Rooney missing unmarked from inside the six yard box after a low cross from Fletcher had picked him out.

Three minutes of added time was not enough time for Hammers to find an equaliser. United's superior experience had already sewn up a 2-1 victory for the Red Devils and inflicted only Hammers second home defeat of the season.

But Pards' team could pride themselves on a performance full of spirit, determination and plenty of promise that this will yet be a season which yields success for West Ham United.