and nod past Rafael and Nemanja Vidic on the line.
There was no initial response from the Reds with Rooney’s wayward shot the only effort registered in the opening half an hour but an equaliser arrived following a fine move down the left flank. Van Persie threaded a pass through James Collins’ legs to work the ball back to Kagawa and the Japan international danced his way into the area to tee up Valencia for a simple tap-in, with the winger becoming the 19th different league scorer for the leaders this term.
Diame got the better of Michael Carrick to lash a drive into the side-netting and Vaz Te thumped well wide as Sam Allardyce’s side produced a positive reaction while Nolan tumbled under the merest touch from Vidic in a desperate bid to win a penalty that left referee Lee Probert unimpressed.
Probert then failed to punish Carroll’s ludicrous challenge on David De Gea from a corner with the yellow card the least it clearly warranted but, thankfully, the keeper was back on his feet after receiving treatment. The Londoners must have been disappointed to end the half on level terms as the move that led to Valencia’s goal was the only one United created that carried any real menace.
The start of the second half saw an immediate improvement with van Persie heading Rooney’s precise cross frustratingly behind Jones, who was unable to make a proper connection when a goal would have been certain. Yet it did not provoke a spell of sustained pressure as Vidic was forced into a tremendous headed clearance at the other end to prevent Nolan from reaching a Jarvis cross.
Indeed, West Ham continued to push forward and Carroll, unconcerned by collecting a belated booking for a flare-up with De Gea, smashed a