a key role in dictating the Reds’ tempo.
Opposition West Ham offered precious little in the way of a genuine attacking threat for most of the afternoon, so much so that Carlton Cole’s goal after 81 minutes was a source of frustration for David Moyes. Substitute Alex Büttner had only been on the pitch a minute and was perhaps not fully up to speed as he inadvertently played Cole onside when the rest of the defence had stepped up.
Move of the match The build-up for United’s goals, ultimately, were the most incisive, but late in the first period a break-neck counter-attack deserved a better finish than it received. Smalling's towering header released Valencia, who motored forward and swapped passes with Rafael before steering his finish over the bar.
In the stands Festive for periods, particularly midway through the second period. Credit to West Ham's vocal visiting fans, who sang: "You're not special, we lose every week.” We prefer to think United got the game-plan right – good tempo, attacking intent, and clinical in front of goal. So everyone in Red goes home happy ahead of Christmas.