Hammers edged out at Old Trafford

Barclays Premier League
Manchester United 2-1 West Ham United

A spirited West Ham United were edged out by ten-man Manchester United at Old Trafford on Saturday afternoon, as the Hammers were beaten on their travels for the first time in the Barclays Premier League this season. 

Wayne Rooney's stylish finish and a typically clinical Robin Van Persie fired Louis Van Gaal's men into a two-goal lead inside 21 minutes, before Diafra Sakho halved the Hammers' arrears from point-blank range.  

Goalscorer Rooney saw red on the hour mark for a wild challenge on Stewart Downing and yet for all their second-half pressure, Sam Allardyce's men were unable to make their numerical or territorial advantage count.

Allardyce had earlier been forced to shuffle his winning pack, with midfielders Mark Noble and Cheikhou Kouyate both injury absentees. It meant a first start for last weekend's hero Morgan Amalfitano and 19-year-old Diego Poyet. Elsewhere, skipper Kevin Nolan, having recovered from a fractured shoulder, was restored to the matchday 18.

If Manchester United were still a little nervy from their second-half collapse at Leicester City, they certainly did not show it first up. With a patched up back-four, Van Gaal's men made sure it was the Hammers doing all the defending early on. 

Rooney's second-minute free-kick just evaded Radamel Falcao at the far post and had Adrian scurrying across his goal too. Alex Song had a second nibble at Angel Di Maria, prompting Lee Mason to produce an early yellow card. And while the Argentine looked menacing over on the left-hand side, the opener came from the opposite flank. Rafael Da Silva burst free, swung in an inviting cross towards Rooney, who hardly broke strike to brilliantly sweep into the far corner beyond the dive of Adrian. 

But just as they did against Leicester City, the Reds switched off from the restart. A woeful attempted back-pass sent Enner Valencia in the clear, but he rushed his effort, blasting high into the Stretford End.    

Daley Blind then fed Di Maria on the left edge of the box, who shifted it onto his right foot but curled over. Midway through the half and the hosts should really have had a second, courtesy of the same duo who conjured the first. Rafael again picked out Rooney 12 yards from goal, but this time he scuffed it and James Tomkins headed away.      

That second, however, was not long in coming. Song was robbed in his own half and once Falcao fed Van Persie, the Hammers' goal was in serious peril. Faced with Winston Reid, the Dutchman worked half a yard and angled a low drive across Adrian and in off the post.

But West Ham's response was a spirited one and they were well and truly back in it after 38 minutes, thanks to that man Sakho, again. Downing's right-wing corner caused all sorts of bother in the hosts' box, with Amalfitano the first to challenge and his header only partially repelled by David De Gea. The rebound dropped kindly for Valencia and though his header came back off the bar, Sakho gleefully nodded into the unguarded net.

Allardyce's side started the second half in positive fashion and twice produced half chances in the opening exchanges. Valencia's cleverly flighted free-kick landed on the chest of Reid, but with no West Ham man in close attendance, the Reds smuggled it away. Then, Aaron Cresswell's long ball flicked off the head of Sakho and just ran away from the advanced Amalfitano. 

Back at the Stretford End, Falcao let fly from distance once more and though Poyet flung himself in the line of fire, the deflection forced Adrian into an eye-catching stop away to his left.        

But West Ham continued to force the issue and went close with 55 on the clock. Cresswell's deep cross found the unmarked Sakho at the far post, whose side-foot volley was well saved by De Gea. The resulting corner, not for the first time, caused chaos and so nearly fell for Tomkins.

The real drama, however, was still to follow, as Rooney unwisely aimed a wild kick at the shins of Downing, as the Hammers man looked to race across half way. Referee Lee Mason sent the England man packing, much to the horror of most inside Old Trafford. Allardyce responded by introducing Carlton Cole for the flagging Amalfitano, while Darren Fletcher replaced Falcao for the Reds.     

As the Hammers piled on the pressure, Valencia's deflected effort drifted the wrong side of De Gea's left-hand upright, before Jenkinson's cross was brilliantly cleared by youngster Patrick McNair from under his own crossbar.

West Ham looked to have bagged a dramatic leveller in the 89th minute, but the linesman's flag cut short the Hammers' celebrations after substitute Nolan had turned home Jenkinson's cross. Try as they might, an equaliser would ultimately prove elusive as Allardyce's men departed Old Trafford empty handed.             

Manchester United: De Gea, Rafael, McNair, Rojo, Shaw, Blind, Herrera (Valencia 74), Di Maria (Thorpe 90+4), Rooney, van Persie, Falcao (Fletcher 65) 
Lindegaard, Pereira, Mata, Januzaj

Goals: Rooney 5, Van Persie 22 

Sent off: Rooney

West Ham United: Adrian, Demel (Jenkinson 64), Tomkins, Reid, Cresswell, Poyet (Nolan 75), Song, Amalfitano (Cole 60), Downing, Sakho, Valencia  
Subs: Zarate, Vaz Te, Collins, Jaaskelainen

Goal: Sakho 38

Booked: Song, Sakho, Adrian