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Saturday, 8 December, 2001, 17:03 GMT
Defoe stuns Man Utd
West Ham striker Jermain Defoe
Defoe further dents United's Premiership title challenge

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Man Utd 0-1 West Ham

West Ham recorded a famous Premiership victory over Manchester United as the champions suffered their third consecutive league defeat.

Jermain Defoe scored the only goal of the game after some excellent play by Paolo di Canio in the United area allowed the diminutive striker to head home unchallenged.

David James made some crucial saves to keep his side's lead in tact as United threatened to grab an equaliser.

But despite the persistent efforts of United captain Roy Keane, Sir Alex Ferguson's men simply could not find a way through a determined West Ham defence.

And the visitors were able to repeat their 1-0 win over United in the FA Cup on the same ground earlier this year.

64 mins: Jermain Defoe heads West Ham into lead

United failed to settle into any rhythm early on, owing as much to their rejigged line-up as to West Ham's willingness to battle for every ball.

John O'Shea was handed his full Premiership debut alongside Gary Neville at the heart of the United defence.

I think it will take a miracle...the first thing we have to do is pick up our form
Sir Alex Ferguson

And O'Shea soon made his mark on the game, entering referee Paul Durkin's book for a foul on Defoe.

Keane was also shown the yellow card for over-zealously arguing his team-mate's case.

The United skipper was even luckier not to be sent off for a reckless challenge on Defoe minutes later.

Manchester United midfielder Roy Keane confronts referee Paul Durkin
Keane sees yellow not red

United's defence were kept busy by the Hammers, with Defoe, Di Canio, Joe Cole and Trevor Sinclair posing all sorts of problems.

Di Canio played an exquisite ball to Sinclair, whose overhead volley would have provided a spectacular finish to an excellent move had it found the back of the net.

But despite West Ham's greater pressure it was their own keeper James, sporting a new Goldilocks look, who made the most important saves of the first half.

It's definitely my best day in management
West Ham boss Glenn Roeder

Twice he denied Paul Scholes, whose first attempt was a rasping drive from the edge of the area.

An unsatisfactory opening hour saw the introduction of David Beckham for the ineffective Luke Chadwick.

And his first contribution was a telling cross into the West Ham area which Scholes headed wide.

Yet Beckham's much-anticipated appearance was eclipsed minutes later - by England U-21 international Defoe.

The mercurial Di Canio picked out the young West Ham striker, who rose at the far post to head past Barthez.

West Ham keeper David James
James made some golden saves

United pushed forward in search of the equaliser, bringing on Andy Cole for Nicky Butt.

Wave after wave of attacks by the men in red shirts were met by some resilient West Ham defending.

James made a superb save to deny Mikael Silvestre what seemed a certain goal.

His opposite number Barthez even joined the attack in the dying minutes.

But the eccentric Frenchman could do nothing to spare Old Trafford's blushes as the hosts sank to their sixth Premiership defeat of the current campaign.

Man Utd: Barthez, Gary Neville, O'Shea, Silvestre, Phil Neville, Chadwick, Butt, Keane, Scholes, Yorke, Solskjaer. Subs: Carroll, Beckham, Cole, Wallwork, Fortune.

West Ham: James, Repka, Dailly, Schemmel, Sinclair, Carrick, Hutchison, Cole, Winterburn, Di Canio, Defoe. Subs: Hislop, Minto, Potts, Courtois, Camara.

Referee: P Durkin (England).

BBC Sport's Mike Ingham
"David James was on England form in goal"
West Ham boss Glenn Roeder
"It was a wonderful performance from my players"
Man Utd boss Sir Alex Ferguson
"I think it's impossible now, it would take a miracle"
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