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Page last updated at 13:38 GMT, Saturday, 3 May 2008 14:38 UK

Man Utd 4-1 West Ham

By Phil McNulty

Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates with Nani after scoring for Man Utd
Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates with Nani after scoring for Man Utd

Manchester United moved to within one win of the Premier League title with a comfortable victory against West Ham.

Cristiano Ronaldo scored from 12 yards after three minutes and bundled home his 40th goal of the season from close range in the 24th minute.

Carlos Tevez added a brilliant third from 25 yards before Nani was sent off for head-butting Lucas Neill.

Dean Ashton pulled one back with an overhead kick, but Michael Carrick drove in a fourth after 58 minutes.

The victory means United will retain the title with victory at Wigan next Sunday, thanks to their vastly-superior goal difference compared to rivals Chelsea.

United were helped by a desperately listless West Ham side that never gave the slightest hint they would repeat last season's win at Old Trafford that preserved their Premier League status.


And any fears boss Sir Alex Ferguson may have had about a hangover following their Champions League semi-final victory against Barcelona on Tuesday were dispelled by a vibrant performance.

If United were craving a fast start and an early goal, they could not have wished for more generous defending on the part of West Ham that gave them the lead after three minutes.

Ronaldo says winning the title would crown a 'spectacular' season for him

Ronaldo escaped the attentions of Neill, and the rest of the Hammers' defence stood off as he raced into the area and beat Robert Green with a deflected shot.

West Ham were almost allowed a route back into the game three minutes later when United keeper Edwin van der Sar was uncertain and Patrice Evra had to clear off the line from Bobby Zamora.

And the visitors had appeals for a penalty waved away when Wes Brown handled under pressure from Zamora, but referee Mike Riley gave a foul against the West Ham striker.

United doubled their lead after 24 minutes when West Ham failed to deal with Owen Hargreaves' long cross and the ball went into the net off Ronaldo's thigh at the far post for his 40th goal of the season.

Day was philosophical after the defeat

Tevez made it three against his former club two minutes later when he sent a vicious swerving drive high past Green from 25 yards.

West Ham looked dejected and beaten, but Ashton gave them a measure of hope with a spectacular overhead kick after 28 minutes.

And the lifeline was extended further 10 minutes before the interval when Nani inexplicably head-butted Neill after a minor fracas - an offence made worse by the Manchester United winger hitting the ground holding his head in a desperate attempt to avoid punishment.

Queiroz wants the players to focus on the final few games

Ashton injured a muscle in scoring his spectacular goal and it was no surprise when he went off early in the second half, to be replaced by Carlton Cole.

West Ham were in no mood to take advantage, however, and desperate defending allowed Carrick to stride forward unopposed to send in a deflected shot from 25 yards for United's fourth after 58 minutes.

It was now damage limitation for Alan Curbishley's side and an opportunity for United to improve their goal difference even further.

And United substitute Darren Fletcher almost added a fifth with 20 minutes left, only to see his angled drive come back off an upright.

The rest of the game was played out in a carnival atmosphere as Old Trafford anticipated another title triumph.

Man Utd: Van der Sar, Hargreaves, Brown, Ferdinand, Evra, Nani, Carrick, Scholes (O'Shea 72), Park (Giggs 61), Ronaldo (Fletcher 64), Tevez.
Subs Not Used: Anderson, Kuszczak.

Sent Off: Nani (37).

Booked: Ronaldo.

Goals: Ronaldo 3, 24, Tevez 26, Carrick 59.

West Ham: Green, Pantsil, Tomkins, Neill, McCartney, Noble, Parker, Mullins (Sears 75), Boa Morte (Solano 52), Ashton (Cole 56), Zamora.
Subs Not Used: Walker, Collison.

Booked: Neill, McCartney, Zamora.

Goals: Ashton 28.

Att: 76,013

Ref: Mike Riley (Yorkshire).

BBC Sport Player Rater man of the match: Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo 8.77 (on 90 minutes).

  • Please note that you can still give the players marks out of 10 on BBC Sport's Player Rater after the match has finished.

    see also
    Ferguson adds to Chelsea pressure
    03 May 08 |  Premier League
    Giggs nears Reds all-time record
    03 May 08 |  Man Utd
    How to watch Match of the Day
    08 Oct 07 |  Match of the Day
    Saturday's football photos
    03 May 08 |  Football
    Premier League as it happened
    03 May 08 |  Premier League

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