Robin van Persie scored after just 33 seconds at Old Trafford to vanquish West Ham and maintain Manchester United’s position at the summit of the Barclays Premier League.
The Dutchman’s 12th goal since his summer move from Arsenal was enough to settle an entertaining fixture and end a worrying five-game streak in which the Reds have conceded first.
Although Sir Alex’s men scored just once, there were plenty of positives from the performance, including a first clean sheet in 10 games and outstanding showings from Brazilian pair Anderson and Rafael.
On Sam Allardyce’s last visit to Old Trafford the then Blackburn boss saw his side lose 7-1 and on a wintery Wednesday evening he must have feared the worst when he saw United’s teamsheet.
Sir Alex fielded an attack-minded XI, managing to accommodate Wayne Rooney, Robin van Persie and Javier Hernandez in a front three. Anderson was rewarded with his second league start of the season for his game-changing cameo against QPR, while Michael Carrick and Tom Cleverley were also recalled in midfield.
In his programme notes, Sir Alex implored his players not to concede first for a 14th time this season and the Reds duly obliged. Indeed, Hammers goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen was picking the ball out of his net inside the first minute as van Persie’s side-footed shot struck James Collins and looped over the hapless Finnish stopper.
As much as the Dutchman benefited from a huge stroke of luck, his skill in the goal’s build-up, dinking the ball over Winston Reid before rounding the defender to effectively collect his own pass, was breathtaking in its execution.