Manchester United v West Ham United
Barclays Premier League
Tuesday 23 February 2010
Referee: Alan Wiley
Final score - Manchester United 3-0 West Ham United
93 mins - Into the final 60 seconds and United are looking for No4. The visitors need to keep their concentration to the very end. It's been a tough game for the Hammers, but then coming to Old Trafford is never easy, to use a well-worn cliche. The first goal was a classic, and changed the course of the match. Before then, the visitors had been more than a match for the champions. Rooney is in the form of his life, and he kept up his red-hot run of form with two textbook headers. There is no disgrace in losing at Manchester United, and manager Zola will be keen to ensure that this result does not dent the confidence built up in the club's last two home matches.
91 mins - We're going to have three minutes of added-time. The snow is bucketing down now. Like I said a while back, it's going to be a LONG journey home! Scholes finds Diouf, but the youngster's touch lets him down.
90 mins - West Ham have a late corner. Noble crosses and Foster punches clear before Collison wins a throw-in.
88 mins - There are vast swathes of empty red seats around Old Trafford. The snow isn't that bad, lads...
86 mins - The snow is really chucking it down now as we go into the final few minutes here. West Ham could do with a consolation goal but it is the other United who are finishing the stronger. Scholes gets past a tired-looking Tomkins, but can only scoop his shot miles over the top from 12 yards.
84 mins - Cole does well to keep possession in midfield. Spector crosses and Brown's header drops to Kovac, whose first-time shot is held by Foster diving low to his left.
83 mins - That, ladies and gentlemen, was a great chance for West Ham to get on the scoresheet. Mido's deep corner was headed back into the danger zone by Tomkins, where Upson could only scoop his shot over from six yards.
82 mins - West Ham might have to play out the remaining ten minutes or so with ten men. Noble is off the pitch and getting some treatment from the physio to what looks like a left arm injury. After some repairs, he is back on, but he doesn't look 100 per cent.
80 mins - GOAL! Well, that didn't take long, did it? Scholes plays in Owen and he clips the ball past Green and in off the far post. Noble looks to be injured and was lying on the right touchline while that move developed.
78 mins - A double change for United. Berbatov and Rooney are replaced by Michael Owen and Mame Biram Diouf.
76 mins - That is a booking. There is no doubt about that. Berbatov turns away from Upson and knocks the ball past Faubert before being blocked off by the Frenchman. Yellow card for Faubert.
75 mins - Diamanti is the man to be replaced by Dyer, who has had a new haircut for the occasion.
74 mins - Kieron Dyer is being readied for his first appearance since 15 December at Bolton.
72 mins - Collison has a chink of light, only to present the ball to Evra. It breaks to Kovac, but his shot flies off Cole's head and out for a goal kick.
71 mins - Some of the home fans are leaving already. I know the 50mph zones were a pain, but surely they weren't that bad...
68 mins - Foster is called into action for the first time in a while. Collison, Cole and Mido combine to find Diamanti, whose shot takes a deflection and forces the England goalkeeper into a smart save diving to his right.
66 mins - Hmmm.... West Ham give the ball away again, with Faubert passing straight to Park, who plays in Rooney. Just when he looks as if he will pull the trigger, Tomkins makes a fantastic challenge to concede a corner, which West Ham scramble clear.
65 mins - A bit of calamity at the back sees Tomkins and Upson combine to gift possession to Scholes, to swaps passes with Rooney before shooting too close to Green.
64 mins - As if things couldn't get any worse, it's now snowing...
63 mins - A second change for West Ham. Behrami is replaced by Collison. That looks to be a tactical switch.
60 mins - Rooney again! This time the striker out-paces Green to a through ball after the goalkeeper had been caught in two minds. The England man shoots from a tight angle and Faubert clears off the line. West Ham break and Diamanti plays in Behrami, whose cross is agonisingly behind Cole.
58 mins - I think Mr Rooney fancies a hat-trick tonight. He runs on to Gibson's pass and is only denied a shooting chance by Upson's sliding challenge. Gibson's corner is then headed by the striker and hits Cole before going out at the near post. Gibson crosses again and Cole heads clear.
57 mins - Noble launches a ball from deep, Upson heads goalwards and Vidic flicks the ball out for another corner. Diamanti crosses and Cole jumps with Brown, the ball hits the striker on the chest and bounces harmlessly past the far post.
56 mins - Spector gets forward down the left and wins a corner. Diamanti crosses and Brown heads clear.
55 mins - GOAL! Without being too downbeat, that is probably game over. Valencia latches on to a delicious pass from Berbatov to get behind Spector. Valencia crosses and Rooney has plenty of space and time to head in his 23rd league goal in 27 games.
52 mins - Cole and Mido contrive to lose possession inside the United half. Evra finds Rooney, who spreads play wide to Valencia with a superb pass. The South American beats Spector but Kovac slides in well to concede a corner. United cross, but West Ham clear before Diamanti is fouled.
50 mins - Faubert crosses, Vidic heads into the air and Cole latches on to the loose ball. He turns and shoots from a tight angle, but the ball flies harmlessly over the top.
47 mins - Mido wins a corner. Not sure that's the right decision, but who cares? Diamanti crosses, and the ball hits Neville and bounces out for another corner. Diamanti takes again, Cole tries to get on the end of the cross, the ball bounces down to Behrami, who skies his shot miles over the top.
46 mins - Well I've seen quieter starts to a second half. United kick-off and immediately go on the attack. Less than ten seconds in and Park pings a shot against the underside of the bar. The ball bounces down on to the post before coming out. Park regains possession and then goes down under a challenge. Thankfully, referee Wiley waves away the home protests!
We're going to see Mido after half-time. Franco will be the man replaced. It is the Egyptian's birthday. He turns 27 today and is obviously keen to get into the action as he has already taken off his tracksuit and is jogging around on the pitch!
Half-time score - Manchester United 1-0 West Ham United
48 mins - Faubert romps down the right and gets on the end of a pass before crossing. Unfortunately, Franco had been part of the move that led to the cross, so Cole is the only West Ham player in the box. The ball flies over his head and Neville calmly chests it back to Foster. The goalkeeper clears and, a short time later, Wiley blows for half-time. West Ham have given plenty to the opening 45 minutes and, with a bit of luck, could easily have gone in level. One piece of class was the only difference between the two teams.
45 mins - Faubert swaps passes with Behrami and wins a corner as we go into the minimum of three minutes of added time. Unfortunately, West Ham take it short and Faubert's cross is cut out.
42 mins - Rooney is in the mood now, winning a corner off Faubert. Gibson's flag-kick is too deep, however. Seconds later, Berbatov finds the England man with a neat flick, Rooney controls and volleys in one movement, and the ball clears the crossbar by a matter of a foot.
41 mins - Cole wins a high ball and it falls to Noble, who shoots first-time. The shot is off-target but nearly falls to Franco, only for the Mexican's touch to let him down.
38 mins - GOAL! United take the lead through Rooney in sensational style. Berbatov lofts the ball to Valencia, who crosses first-time on the volley for the England striker to nod in at the far post. Class goal.
37 mins - Neville and Valencia combine well down the right before the latter finds Scholes, whose low cross is gathered by Green.
36 mins - The champions are upping the ante here. Valencia crosses behind Berbatov, who hooks the ball back towards Gibson. The midfielder takes a touch and curls a shot straight into the hands of Green.
34 mins - Neville fouls Diamanti. Noble drives the free-kick into the box, where Franco heads on, and Upson rises and heads goalwards, but Foster claims. United go up the other end and Gibson shoots from range, Green dives to his right and tips the ball behind. The resulting corner is punched up in the air not once, but twice by the goalkeeper, who then jumps to claim the high ball.
33 mins - Gibson works the ball wide to Valencia, who cuts inside Spector and plays it back to the Irishman. Gibson shoots first-time, but it is straight at Green.
29 mins - Franco is felled by Scholes, who is arguably lucky to receive nothing more than a telling off from Wiley. Collison, Da Costa and Daprela head out on to the touchline for a trot. Not a bad idea, considering how cold it is here!
26 mins - I'm not sure you could make 75,000 people keep this quiet even with a financial incentive. It's so quiet here. As I type, the noise level suddenly rises as Valencia cuts inside and tests Green. The goalkeeper parries and Upson half-clears to Gibson, who shoots first time, Berbatov flicks and Green saves with his legs before pouncing on the loose ball.
24 mins - West Ham are on top here. Faubert picks up the ball and delivers a low cross that United can only clear for a throw-in.
23 mins - Replays show Foster did quite well there, patting the ball down on to the line before stopping it before it crossed. It was VERY close to being an opening goal for the Hammers.
21 mins - Foster nearly made a meal of that. Diamanti's shot hits a defender and loops miles into the air. It is on target, and Foster has to backpedal before keeping the ball out at the second attempt. United go straight up the other end, and only a timely challenge from Upson denies Berbatov a clear sight of goal.
20 mins - Kovac beats two men before Behrami gives the ball away. Rooney breaks and ghosts past Noble before Tomkins makes a top-class tackle on the edge of the penalty area. Fantastic challenge. West Ham break immediately and Behrami gets free inside the United box, only to drag his shot wide of the far post.
19 mins - Rooney handballs and Park comes on at last.
18 mins - Still no break in play for Park to come on to the park, if you know what I mean. Meanwhile, the 1,500 away fans are continuing to comfortably outsing 73,000 home supporters.
16 mins - Anderson nutmegs Behrami, then collapses to the turf. He's not happy with his right leg and walks to the touchline, then heads for the dressing room. United down to ten men for now. Park is getting ready to come on in his place.
15 mins - Cole turns and runs at Vidic before opening his body up - not literally - and trying to curl the ball in Foster's far top-corner. Unfortunately, he over-eggs it and the ball flies harmlessly high and wide of the target.
14 mins - Spector tries to get in behind Neville and latch on to Franco's clever pass. Neville goes down and Wiley blows for a foul. A bit harsh, maybe...
13 mins - Evra does well to hold off Faubert and Behrami down the left before finding Rooney, who crosses high and too close to Green, who claims.
12 mins - Stuttgart are 1-0 up against Barcelona in the Champions League. Could it be a night for shocks? The away fans are making all the noise here, singing Di Canio's name. The Italian scored the winning goal here in an FA Cup tie once, don't you know...
10 mins - Hmmm. Spector passes back to Green, whose clearance is charged down by Berbatov. Thankfully, Wiley blows for handball against the Bulgarian.
9 mins - Noble spreads the play wide to Faubert, who drives forward 20 yards before crossing, but Brown is there to bash the ball clear.
8 mins - Referee Wiley stops play for Anderson to receive some treatment for a leg injury. The Brazilian looks in some pain, but is soon ready to rejoin the fray.
7 mins - Upson does superbly to deny Valencia after the winger had been found by an exquisite Rooney pass. The South American got in behind Spector, but delayed his shot long enough for the centre-back to make a great block.
5 mins - Franco loses the ball to Rooney but works back 30 yards to win it back. Well done. West Ham break through Noble, who finds Cole, and the Hammers settle on keeping possession for a period before the attack peters out.
4 mins - Spector does well to halt Valencia after Upson had gifted possession to Scholes in midfield. That's the second time the American has done well to deny the Ecuador winger.
3 mins - There is a strange murmur around the place in the early stages, which the travelling fans mock with a chorus of 'Sssshhs', followed by a tune of 'We all follow the West Ham'. Good work.
1 min - Carlton Cole and Guille Franco get us underway. Anderson is playing wide left for United, who have the first attack down the right flank. Gibson curls a cross in and Green dives bravely at the feet of Berbatov to make the catch. Ouch! That looked painful. The Hammers physio comes on to tend to Green, who took a bang to the ribs. After a quick shake of the head, the goalkeeper is ready to continue.
8pm - West Ham are going to kick-off attacking the East Stand end...
7.58pm - This is going to be a big night for Jonathan Spector, who spent two years at Manchester United as a teenager, making eight first-team appearances. It is also a big night for West Ham's mascot Rory, who has travelled down from Cumbria!
7.57pm - While we choose to play 'Bubbles', Manchester United prefer a fanfare-type classical tune. Very grand, but I'm not sure exactly what it is, to be honest. The two sets of players shake hands and we're nearly ready to go.
7.56pm - West Ham's substitutes are taking their seats in the away dugout ahead of the entrance of the two teams. And here they come...
7.54pm - Fergie has been very complimentary of the Hammers in his programme notes for tonight's game, praising the club's 'tradition', style of play, manager and new joint-chairmen David Sullivan and David Gold. The Scot has always had a soft spot for West Ham, to be fair to him.
7.51pm - Sir Alex Ferguson clearly wants a slick surface for his team to play on, as the sprinklers have been turned on and are currently drenching what must have already been a wet pitch. I must say, the pitch does look nice and lush, which should make for an attractive game.
7.48pm - One man for whom playing at Old Trafford will hold no fear is Guille Franco. The Mexico striker hit the post with a cheeky backheel when Spanish side Villarreal CF visited Manchester for a UEFA Champions League group stage fixture last season. That match ended goalless, as did the return game in Spain. A repeat of those results tonight would be most welcome. A clean sheet would also be West Ham's fifth in seven league matches. Robert Green and his defenders have been in impressive form in recent weeks, keeping Aston Villa, Blackburn Rovers, Birmingham City and Hull City at bay since the turn of the year. West Ham's players have returned to their dressing room for a few last-minute words of encouragement from Gianfranco Zola and his coaching staff.
7.45pm - Around 1,500 hardy Hammers have braved the non-stop 50mph limits on the M6 to be here tonight. Whatever the result, it is going to be a LONG journey home! Seriously, there were more 50mph roadworks sections than you could shake a stick at. Factor in all the extra fans heading south after the game and it is going to be busy on the motorway. I can't wait! Back here at Old Trafford, the West Ham players are going through a shooting drill with Stech doing the goalkeeping.
7.40pm - A spare set of goalposts have been wheeled in at both ends of the pitch so that the goalkeepers can warm up away from their goalmouth. What have Robert Green and Ben Foster done? Yep, that's right, they are both warming up in their proper goalmouths rather than using the temporary goalposts! Ludek Miklosko, at the age of 48 years young, is firing low shots at the England stopper while Peter Kurucz and back-up Marek Stech try to keep warm.
7.35pm - The snow we were promised before setting out from east London this morning has not arrived in Manchester, thankfully. However, it is still not exactly tropical here at the 'Theatre of Dreams'. Old Trafford turned 100 last weekend, so West Ham will be out to ruin the stadium's birthday celebrations. Paolo Di Canio and Carlos Tevez have done it before, but who can make themseves a hero tonight?
Good evening and welcome to Old Trafford as West Ham United seek to extend their winning Barclays Premier League run to three matches.
The Hammers have overcome Birmingham City and Hull City in their previous two games and will be in confident mood ahead of tonight's game against the reigning champions.
With the home game against Bolton Wanderers in mind, West Ham manager Gianfranco Zola has chosen to rest Scott Parker. The England midfielder has been booked nine times this season and would be banned for two matches should he pick up a tenth yellow card this evening. Mark Noble replaces him in the only change from Saturday's 3-0 victory over Hull.
Having recovered from a hamstring, Kieron Dyer is named among the substitutes for the first time since starting at Bolton Wanderers on 15 December.
United themselves will be desperate to bounce back to winning ways after going down to a 3-1 defeat by Everton at Goodison Park on Saturday. Their cause will be aided by the return of first-choice centre-back Nemanja Vidic, who is available again after a nerve problem. Former Hammers Rio Ferdinand and Michael Carrick do not feature.
West Ham United: Green, Faubert, Tomkins, Upson, Spector, Behrami (Collison 63), Kovac, Noble, Diamanti (Dyer 75), Franco (Mido 46), Cole
Subs: Stech, Daprela, Da Costa, Ilan
Manchester United: Foster, Neville, Brown, Vidic, Evra, Valencia, Anderson (Park 19), Scholes, Gibson, Berbatov (Owen 78), Rooney (Diouf 78)
Subs: Kuszczak, Rafael, Evans, Fletcher