The race to the top narrowed Tuesday night as Manchester United swept aside West Ham United at Old Trafford.
Shades of 1966 early on as Man United’s Ben Foster dropped Alessandro Diamanti’s dipping shot onto the goal-line. Did it cross? Sir Alex Ferguson’s sometime nemesis, referee Alan Wiley, thought not. Can we at least agree on goal-line replays? It may be asking too much of the human eye to judge these borderline goals in an instant. Had the visitors gained the early lead perhaps the final result would be different.
Of course, few clubs in the world stand a chance when Wayne Rooney is at his marauding best. Just like last week at the San Siro, Antonio Valencia and Wayne Rooney connected brilliantly. In the 38th, Ji-Sung Park deftly passed to Dimitar Berbatov on his left. Berba changed the play’s direction with a looping pass over to Valencia on the right who immediately, and audaciously, volleyed it across for a diving Rooney header. It’s only Tuesday but that may well be the goal of the week. See it for yourself.
Valencia fed Rooney again in the 55th, allowing Sir Alex to perhaps ease up on clenching his squeaky bum and bring on Michael Owen and Mame Biram Diouf in the 78th. More controversy followed, as Man United, as is their custom, played on as West Ham’s Mark Noble lay prone on the pitch. Owen went on to evade Robert Green on the left and chip in his third league goal of the campaign.
The defeat leaves the Hammers four points clear of relegation while Man United trails Chelsea by only a point having played one more game. Thoughts of the league will be put aside for the current holders as they travel to Wembley Sunday to take on Aston Villa in the Carling Cup Final. They will again be without Rio Ferdinand, and will likely be without Anderson as well, as he was forced to leave Tuesday’s game in the 19th minute.