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Man Utd 2-0 West Ham

By Chris Whyatt

Cristiano Ronaldo
Ronaldo celebrated his first goal in emphatic fashion

Cristiano Ronaldo's first-half brace saw Manchester United cruise to victory over a poor West Ham at Old Trafford.

Displaying flashes of real style, United raced into a 13th-minute lead after the superb Nani cut the ball back for Ronaldo to slot into the corner.

Dimitar Berbatov's sublime skill saw him skip past James Collins, allowing him to square for Ronaldo to tap in.

But West Ham offered little attacking threat and a lame Luis Boa Morte effort failed to test keeper Tomasz Kuszczak.

With Sir Alex Ferguson's side eight points behind leaders Liverpool coming into the game, United were keen to return to winning ways after being held to a frustrating draw at Everton on Saturday.

And they found the perfect opponents, with Gianfranco Zola's Hammers looking every bit like a team who had lost their last three games and are yet to keep a clean sheet this season.

Phelan hails Berbatov skill

United almost took a second-minute lead after Berbatov's side-footed shot was deflected just over the bar by Matthew Upson.

And Nani was cleverly found down the left two minutes later and flashed a powerful snap-shot just wide of Hammers keeper Robert Green's upright.

The home side did have a momentary lapse of concentration but, with Craig Bellamy isolated upfront and West Ham's five-man midfield proving ineffective, United began to run riot.

The ubiquitous Nani passed a simple cross behind the visitors static back-line for Ronaldo to guide a low left-footed shot into the corner.

United created chance after chance as Nani fired just wide and Anderson failed to register his first goal for the club when presented with an easy opportunity.

Upson fought manfully to stem the tide but United's class was simply overwhelming them.

And the inevitable second goal came on 29 minutes when Anderson caressed the down the left and, after flummoxing Collins with a breathtaking moment of skill on the by-line, Berbatov squared for Ronaldo to slot in his second.

United continued to keep West Ham on the back foot until the break, and Zola's half-time team talk and changes did at least see his side fight under in the second half.

Hayden Mullins made a crucial block on the ever-willing Carlos Tevez in the penalty area, and a posse of Hammers defenders had to combine to block his progress minutes later.

Bad spell will be short-lived - Zola

Bellamy did rouse West Ham's travelling contingent with a 45-yard free-kick which dipped just over United's crossbar, as he tried to catch Tomasz Kuszczak off his line.

But substitute Wayne Rooney came on for Nani with 20 minutes remaining and soon had Green pushing a deft chip over his bar and scrambling to block a vicious drive.

Boa Morte was put through by Bellamy's floated pass over the top of the United defence but knocked a weak effort into Kuszczak's arms.

The Hammers did also make a couple of late counter-attacks amid a flurry of substitutions but, time and again, their final ball was not good enough.

Manchester United assistant manager Mike Phelan:
"We felt we should have attacked the game more and gone for more goals. We weren't as comfortable as we should have been in the second half.

"Berbatov showed his credentials and that piece of skill was the highlight of the game.

"We need to keep the run going and the players realise that goal [difference] could be important at the end of the season."

West Ham boss Gianfranco Zola:
"They are the champions of Europe so it's difficult but at least they gave everything in the second half.

"My players deserved a goal in the second half but Sears and Collison came on and did very well.

"I have a great belief in my players, I trust them very much, and I am sure this bad spell will be over soon."

Man Utd: Kuszczak, Rafael Da Silva (Neville 81), Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra, Ronaldo, Fletcher (Carrick 69), Anderson, Nani (Rooney 70), Tevez, Berbatov.
Subs Not Used: Foster, Giggs, Park, O'Shea.

Booked: Evra.

Goals: Ronaldo 14, 30.

West Ham: Green, Faubert, Collins, Upson, Ilunga, Behrami (Boa Morte 44), Bowyer (Sears 69), Mullins, Etherington (Collison 46), Di Michele, Bellamy.
Subs Not Used: Lastuvka, Lopez, Davenport, Reid.

Booked: Collison, Collins.

Att: 75,397

Ref: Peter Walton (Northamptonshire).

BBC Sport Player Rater man of the match on 90 minutes: Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo - 8.71 (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.

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see also
Premier League as it happened
29 Oct 08 |  Premier League
Wednesday's football photos
29 Oct 08 |  Football

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