Wayne Rooney pulled the strings and Danny Welbeck, Adnan Januzaj and Ashley Young scored the goals, as Manchester United kicked off their holiday schedule with a 3-1 victory at home to West Ham United on Saturday in the Premier League.
Welbeck put Manchester United ahead in the 26th minute after an extended dominant spell for the hosts. Januzaj doubled the lead 10 minutes later. Young made it 3-0 with a curling effort in the 72nd minute, and Carlton Cole scored a consolation for West Ham nine minutes from time.
Rooney gathered two assists in a withdrawn-forward role for Manchester United, who moved up to seventh place with 28 points following their second straight league win. West Ham remained 17th, one place and one point above the relegation zone.
Manchester United 3-1 West Ham FT: Shots (OT) 21(8) - 4(1), Possession 62% - 38% http://t.co/HL37MNOFzk— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) December 21, 2013
Wayne Rooney: MotM vs West Ham, Rating 9.3, Assists 2, Touches 104, Pass success 85%, Key Passes 6 http://t.co/HL37MNOFzk— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) December 21, 2013
Manchester United manager David Moyes made one change from last week's win over Aston Villa, as Chris Smalling replaced Ryan Giggs.
West Ham manager Sam Allardyce made two changes from last week's draw with Sunderland: Spanish goalkeeper Adrian made his Premier League debut, while Matthew Taylor replaced Joe Cole in the midfield.
Both teams won midweek in the Capital One Cup, but both had shown mixed form in the league recently. Last week's win over Villa was United's first in five league matches, while West Ham had claimed one point from the previous nine available before Saturday.
Manchester United attacked from the start and nearly went ahead in the second minute. Januzaj played a short corner on the right, received a pass back from Rooney and drove a cross into the middle. The ball deflected to Tom Cleverley, whose first-time shot was saved well by Adrian.
West Ham then settled into a disciplined defensive shape as Manchester United held the majority of possession in search of the opening goal. In the 11th minute, Phil Jones pounced on an errant pass in midfield and charged toward goal before shooting from the edge of the box. Adrian saved easily.
Two minutes later, Rooney had a free kick in a dangerous position just outside the box, but his attempt flew over the target. In the 19th minute, Adrian saved alertly after Antonio Valencia's shot was deflected dangerously on target at the near post.
The breakthrough came in the 26th minute.
As United attacked yet again, Welbeck received a pass with his back to goal, flicking behind his back to Rooney. Rooney dribbled toward the box and laid off for Welbeck, whose shot slipped beneath Adrian, who will have hoped to do better.
It was Welbeck's first league goal at Old Trafford in 14 months—but his third in his last two matches in all competitions—and it lifted the mood among the home supporters just as frustration seemed to be setting in.
427 - Danny Welbeck has scored his first league goal at Old Trafford since 20th October 2012 (v Stoke), 427 days ago. Gifted.— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 21, 2013
Januzaj made it 2-0 in the 36th minute, only moments after having a penalty appeal turned down.
Starting on the left flank, Januzaj traded passes with Welbeck along the edge of the box before cutting back to beat James Collins and finishing at the far post from a tight angle. It was the 18-year-old's third goal since breaking into Manchester United's first team, and his first at Old Trafford.
Manchester United nearly made it 3-0 on the counter in the 41st minute. Valencia charged forward on the right before laying off for Rafael. After receiving the return pass, Valencia curled his shot over the bar.
Januzaj was booked one minute later after referee Mike Jones correctly ruled Januzaj had dived during a challenge with Collins.
From the sublime to the ludicrous. Januzaj booked for an appalling dive.— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) December 21, 2013
After half-time, Welbeck limped off with an ankle injury in the 54th minute. Javier Hernandez replaced him in United's attack. Hernandez had the ball in the net in the 68th minute, but his goal was ruled out for offside in a tight decision.
It mattered little, though, as United made it 3-0 in the 72nd minute. After dashing down the right Valencia crossed into the middle for Rooney, who squared to substitute Ashley Young. With his first touch, Young curled a well-placed shot into the top corner at the far post. It was Young's first Premier League goal in 19 months.
Frustration grew for West Ham, and in the 76th minute, George McCartney drew a booking for a high challenge on Hernandez. McCartney's tackle came over the ball and hit Hernandez's planted leg, and on another day he could have been sent off.
West Ham pulled one back in the 81st minute. From the halfway line, Modibo Maiga freed Cole with a ball through the home defense. Played onside by substitute Alexander Buttner, Cole kept his cool to finish through the legs of David De Gea.
The visitors were emboldened by the goal, and moments later they had a penalty appeal when Ravel Morrison's shot was blocked along the edge of the box by Cleverley. Replays showed Cleverley's arm had blocked Morrison's volley, but the referee waved play on.
In the closing moments, Hernandez swung and missed when presented with a clear chance in front of West Ham's goal. Then, seconds later, Jonny Evans flashed a shot across the face of goal.
Moyes: "We played well. I'm a wee bit disappointed we didn't take some more opportunities and I was disappointed not to keep a clean sheet."— Howard Nurse (@howardnurse) December 21, 2013
|David De Gea||7|
Manchester United play at Hull City on Boxing Day and at Norwich City next Saturday, Dec. 28.
West Ham play at home to Arsenal on Boxing Day and at home to West Brom next Saturday, Dec. 28.