21/12/2013 18:43, Report by Steve Bartram
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The Match: Hammer time

After the match report, reviews the win over West Ham in more detail...

The Match United's early intent promised much and a two-goal lead at the break was fully warranted as an up-tempo approach gave West Ham no time to settle in possession. The visitors offered little attacking threat, and that which existed was decisively snuffed out by a dominant defensive display from United's back four and midfield minders – that is, until that one defensive lapse at the end, allowing Carlton Cole to capitalise. By that point, Ashley Young had already made it 3-0, a lead that understated the Reds' control of the game. Cole’s goal curtailed hopes of a fourth successive clean sheet; a minor irritant on a comfortable afternoon.
The Goals A pair of beautifully-taken efforts made the difference for United in the first half. Welbeck's opener - his first Old Trafford goal in 14 months - stemmed from his own sublime flick inside to Rooney, whose return pass was clinically fired home. A similar exchange between Welbeck and Januzaj culminated in an equally emphatic finish by the teenager, as Januzaj dropped a shoulder and evaded James Collins before steering a shot past Adrian. After the break, substitute Young hit the finish of the game with a magnificent, top-corner effort with his first touch.
Star men As much as this game was characterised by United’s attacking intent, Chris Smalling provided a flawless display in defence, oozing confidence in possession and dominant when trying to win it back. Phil Jones was equally prominent in midfield, reading play and providing defensive cover to prevent West Ham’s intermittent attacks. Wayne Rooney underlined his importance to the cause with a part in all three goals.
Sub plots Ravel Morrison, once a bright prospect in United’s youth ranks, made a largely frustrating first return to Old Trafford. He was booked for kicking out at Tom Cleverley, who went on to help United win the midfield battle, playing a key role in dictating the Reds’ tempo.

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Premier League