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way – flicked the ball back into the path of Nani, whose thunderous effort crashed off the crossbar via a vital fingertip save from Green.
West Ham, for their part, offered energy and industry but little genuine quality. And after 33 minutes United finally took the lead from the penalty spot. Paul Scholes' sumptuous pass picked out Ryan Giggs on the left and he befuddled former Red Jonathan Spector and was subsequently clumsily fouled by the American. After Nani’s miss last week at Fulham, and with United’s talisman back in the team, there was no doubting who would take this penalty. Rooney stepped up confidently, arced his run and sent Green the wrong way to give United a deserved lead.
Clearly in the ascendancy the Reds went searching for a second before the break. Darren Fletcher forced another fine save from Green, this time with a curling effort from 25 yards that West Ham’s shot-stopper turned around the post. Then Berbatov fired over from six yards with a difficult shot on the bounce, while Nani also shot over the bar with a lob that required a far more delicate touch to beat the onrushing Green. United went in at the interval with a slender 1-0 lead; fully dominant thought not completely ruthless in front of goal.
But there was no profligacy from Nani five minutes into the second half. The Portuguese winger cut inside from his station on the right, had defenders back-tracking and falling over their own feet, then struck a vicious left-footed shot past Green from 18 yards to make it 2-0.
United’s football at times was sublime, the neat trickery and interchanging play between Berbatov and Nani in particular catching the eye. Admittedly, West Ham looked lost defensively. Kieron Dyer hit the outside of the Edwin van der Sar’s post after 55 minutes, but it says it all that the Hammers