03/05/2008 13:01, Report by Steve Bartram
Report: United 4 West Ham 1
One win down, one to go. United are just three points away from retaining the Premier League title after a scintillating first half attacking display against West Ham at Old Trafford.
Goals from Cristiano Ronaldo (2) and Carlos Tevez gave the Reds an unassailable lead inside the opening half-hour, although a stunning overhead kick from Dean Ashton and the dismissal of Nani were enough to set nerves jangling.
Just before the hour mark, Michael Carrick became the second former Hammer to score to put the result beyond doubt, meaning that a victory over Wigan next weekend will make United league champions for the 17th time.
Despite their exertions on Tuesday evening, Sir Alex Ferguson named the same starting eleven which overcame Barcelona, while Anderson, Ryan Giggs, Darren Fletcher, John O’Shea and Tomasz Kuszczak remained on the bench.
That meant no return for Nemanja Vidic, still sidelined on doctor’s advice after suffering a concussion against Chelsea, and Wayne Rooney, who continued his recovery from a hip injury.
Despite the absence of their main striker, the Reds were ahead after just three minutes as Ronaldo ended a goal drought – lengthy by his standards – of four games.
Picking the ball up on the right flank, the winger bamboozled Hammers skipper Lucas Neill, advanced into the area and fired a low shot inside Rob Green’s near post, via a slight deflection off George McCartney.
The perfect nerve settler for United in a must-win game, although there was a collective bout of breath-holding at the Stretford End three minutes later, as Rio Ferdinand and Patrice Evra combined to clear Bobby Zamora’s header off the line.