05/12/2009 17:00, Report by Ben Hibbs
West Ham 0 United 4
touchline following a two-game ban, kept faith with midfield pair Gibson and Anderson in midfield – with the oustanding Scholes added into the mix – after their impressive performances in the Carling Cup win over Tottenham Hotspur. It was a particular vote of confidence for Gibson, who scored twice on Tuesday, a faith which he would spectacularly repay.
Both sides made a lively start; a youthful West Ham sought to get at United’s untried back line, while Anderson, Scholes and Gibson attempted to assert their dominance in numbers. But after ten minutes Giggs’ sloppy pass almost allowed the Hammers a cheap opener. His loose ball across United's penalty area to Fletcher let in the tricky Zavon Hines. The young winger’s centre found Jack Collison at the far post with an empty net in front of him, but Giggs responded to the danger of his own making and crucially hooked the ball clear.
After 17 minutes of an end-to-end start, United earned a flurry of corners, Gibson going closest to finding a way through the crowded penalty area from Wes Brown’s headed knock-down. West Ham threatened on the break, but the Reds cranked up the pressure further still. Rooney’s audacious 23rd-minute effort from 30 yards was worth a crack but well over, while James Tomkins had to react quickly to stop Evra’s cross reaching Rooney at the near post on 30 minutes.
Seconds later Scholes saw a left-footed shot from the edge of the area go narrowly wide, but just as United seemed to be getting a foothold in the game the team’s defensive problems took a turn for the worse (which had seemed almost impossible) as skipper Gary