West Ham sunk by deadly Rooney double for Manchester United
19:46 22 March 2014
PA Wire/Press Association Images
The Hammers were undone by Manchester United star Wayne Rooney with a stunning long-range goal as David Beckham watched from the stands
West Ham United 0 Manchester United 2
Wayne Rooney’s deadly double condemned the Hammers to a third successive defeat that leaves Sam Allardyce’s side just six points clear of safety with eight matches left to play.
The England marksman ensured that there was to be no fairytale victory for West Ham United as he produced both a beauty and a beast inside the opening 33 minutes.
Firstly, Rooney showed just why he is paid that reported £300,000 per week with a fantastic 50-yarder that flew out of the East End sky, before he then fluked a second with a deflected defensive clearance.
West Ham’s brilliant run of four straight wins had been tempered by back-to-back defeats at Everton and Stoke City and, following last Saturday’s loss at the Britannia Stadium, Manager-of-the-Month Allardyce made two changes as Matt Taylor and James Collins returned in place of substitutes Antonio Nocerino and Winston Reid.
The early-afternoon results already meant that the Hammers had slipped down into 14th-spot before kick-off and, indeed, they had two lucky escapes before Rooney gave Manchester United that sensational, 10th-minute lead.
First, Andy Carroll won the battle of the big men, when he hacked Marouane Fellaini’s downward header off the line and then James Tomkins sent a sloppy square-ball into no-man’s land, but fortunately Adrian saved Juan Mata’s low, angled shot.
Having helped the seventh-placed Red Devils into the quarter-finals of the Champions League with a midweek hat-trick against Olympiakos, the subsequently injured Robin Van Persie (knee) was forced to sit this one out.
Indeed, David Moyes had made half-a-dozen changes as Mata, Fellaini, Shinji Kagawa, Darren Fletcher, Alexander Buttner and Ashley Young were each recalled to the United fold.
But it was the ever-reliable Rooney, who opened the scoring in simply spectacular style, when he collected Young’s innocent-looking defensive hook down the right flank before out-muscling Tomkins on the half-way line.
Certainly, no-one was prepared for what was about to happen next, for with Adrian off his line, the United skipper let fly from 50-yards to leave the Hammers’ disorientated, Spanish ‘keeper stumbling around his area like a drunk on Barcelona’s Ramblas as the ball took just one bounce before landing in the back of the net.
That ingenious opener had the United bench dancing with delight in the dug-out, while it also rekindled more United memories of an iconic long-ranger once netted at Selhurst Park by the watching David Beckham.
And closer to home, Rooney’s 14th goal of the campaign echoed a similar strike by Everton’s Ronnie Goodlass at Upton Park back in April 1977.
In reply, both Taylor and Mohamed Diame tried their luck from distance but they were woefully wide in their attempts to emulate Rooney’s classic, while Buttner also blocked another low effort from Diame.
After Rafael had been booked for felling Stewart Downing, Japanese raider Kagawa then forced a brilliant save out of Adrian before the Spaniard then foiled Mata with another stupendous stop.
On 33 minutes, however, Rooney did double the visitors’ lead, but this time it was more about fortune than finesse after Young charged down the right and crossed into the six-yard box, where the luckless Mark Noble saw his attempted clearance cannon on to the England striker’s knee and into the goal to compound a miserable first half that also saw Collins and Taylor cautioned for dissent and a foul on Mata.
The Hammers forced a string of early corners just after the break, but they just could not convert and as the hour-mark approached, Matt Jarvis was brought on for Diame, while Carlton Cole then replaced Kevin Nolan.
Despite failing to claim the match-ball, Rooney’s double had still proved to be the difference between these two sides and alongside Mata, he departed to applause from the United fans - plus a few claret and blue clappers - in the crowd of 34,237 as Danny Welbeck and Javier Hernandez played out the final quarter-hour of an encounter that was, by now, well beyond West Ham’s reach.
HAMMERS: Adrian, Demel, McCartney, Tomkins, Collins, Diame (Jarvis 58), Diame, Noble, Taylor (Nocerino 83), Nolan (C. Cole 72), Carroll. Unused subs: Jaaskelainen, Reid, Armero, J.Cole.
RED DEVILS: de Gea, Rafael, Buttner, Jones, Carrick, Young, Kagawa, Fletcher, Mata (Welbeck 76), Fellaini, Rooney (Hernandez 76). Unused subs: Lindegaard, Evra, Nani, Cleverley, Januzaj
Booked: Rafael (11), Collins (34), Taylor (39).
Referee: Lee Mason