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West Ham 0-1 Man Utd

By Mandeep Sanghera

Ryan Giggs expertly curled his shot through a crowd of players to score the winner
Giggs expertly curled his shot through a crowd of players to score the winner

Manchester United moved back to the top of the Premier League as a sublime Ryan Giggs goal saw them overcome West Ham.

The Hammers gave United a stern test but their best chance was an ambitious Carlton Cole chip that was well saved.

The visitors were not at their free-flowing best but Giggs cut in from the left and curled in a shot to provide the moment of magic needed for the win.

The hosts pushed for a leveller but United stood firm to complete a 13th-straight clean sheet in the league.

The result ended West Ham's run of six league games without a defeat and, despite their good play, they just could not find a way through United's defence.

The Hammers showed plenty of the style and vision that boss Gianfranco Zola was famed for in his playing days as they tried to end United's run of seven league wins on the trot.


That was no mean task considering the visitors had not conceded a goal since 8 November, 2008, but the Upton Park side twice went close in the early stages.

A corner fell to Lucas Neill and his well-struck shot from the edge of the area was well held by keeper Edwin van der Sar.

In-form striker Cole, who was called into the England squad on Saturday, was played through by Jack Collison and, after shrugging off Rio Ferdinand, tried an audacious chip which was easily saved.

Rising star Collison then wriggled his way into the United box but his lay-off to Cole was just behind the striker and allowed the visitors to clear.

No complacency in title race - Phelan

United were also passing the ball around with their customary ease and authority, although without penetration, and found West Ham's defence in just as stubborn mood as their own.

Former Hammers player Carlos Tevez was being well-marshalled as the both midfields wrestled for superiority.

United did come close to a breakthrough when an off-target Paul Scholes strike was diverted goalwards by Cristiano Ronaldo, who saw keeper Robert Green tip the ball over.

But Sir Alex Ferguson's side pose a threat from every department and it was the veteran skipper Giggs who rolled back the years to put his side ahead after collecting a sweeping Scholes pass.

Zola pleased with progress despite loss

He cut inside the diving challenge of Cole and into the Hammers box from the left before curling a low right-footed shot through a crowd of players for his first league goal of the season.

Ronaldo could have had a penalty late on after a trip by Neill but referee Phil Dowd waved away his appeals.

Ultimately, the visitors comfortably secured a 1-0 victory - their ninth by that scoreline in the league this season - that lifts them two points clear of rivals Liverpool.

West Ham manager Gianfranco Zola:
"It was a close match. Unfortunately for us they have some great players and if you make a mistake they punish you.

"My team is a young team. They are growing up and improving.

"I am pleased with what they are doing. We need to give this team time."

Manchester United assistant manager Mike Phelan:
"The result was important.

"We felt we needed to come here with the experience and with those two (Giggs and Scholes) you don't get much more experience.

"The match was great value for money. Both teams attacked and we managed to get the win."

West Ham: Green, Neill, Collins, Upson, Ilunga, Behrami (Tristan 87), Parker, Noble (Nsereko 77), Collison, Cole, Di Michele.
Subs Not Used: Lastuvka, Boa Morte, Kovac, Spector, Sears.

Booked: Neill.

Man Utd: Van der Sar, Rafael Da Silva, Ferdinand, Vidic, O'Shea, Ronaldo, Scholes, Carrick, Giggs, Tevez (Park 87), Berbatov.
Subs Not Used: Foster, Nani, Welbeck, Fabio Da Silva, Fletcher, Eckersley.

Booked: Vidic.

Goals: Giggs 62.

Att: 34,958.

Ref: Phil Dowd (Staffordshire).

BBC Sport Player Rater man of the match: Manchester United's Ryan Giggs on 7.27 (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
Ferguson calm after vital victory
08 Feb 09 |  Premier League
Lee Dixon's tactical view
09 Feb 09 |  Premier League
Premier League as it happened
08 Feb 09 |  Premier League
Sunday's football photos
08 Feb 09 |  Football
West Ham Player Rater
03 Dec 06 |  Live Text

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