Wonder strike from Scholes sets United on way to rout

West Ham United 0 Manchester United 4: Defeat's a sickener for Green as his inept West Ham team-mates barely trouble the injury-hit visitors

The Boleyn Ground has been a difficult venue for Manchester United; they had only won five of 13 prior Premier League fixtures and Sir Alex Ferguson has never forgotten the "obscene" effort which denied his team the 1995 title. Yesterday, however, was a stroll in the Upton Park.

For much of the game the champions' back four included midfielders Darren Fletcher and Michael Carrick; by the end they were down to 10 men with Patrice Evra, at centre-half, the only defender, yet Tomasz Kuszczak was rarely troubled. At the other end, United scored four for the second successive away game.

At least Portsmouth got a goal back last week. An abject West Ham rarely looked like doing so. They are very much in the relegation scrap and by

the final whistle the banks of empty seats told their own story. "We didn't pose much threat, but they are the champions and we had a lot of young players, it wasn't easy," said Gianfranco Zola, Hammers' manager.

Ferguson's face was wreathed in smiles. "Four-nil is a good win away from home, good for our goal difference and good for confidence. We're very pleased," he said. He may struggle to field a recognizable back four in Wolfsburg in midweek but with qualification assured for the Champions League knock-out stages Aston Villa's visit to Old Trafford on Saturday will be the physios' target.

When Nemanja Vidic was ruled out with a cold even United's resources were stretched as Rio Ferdinand, John O'Shea, Johnny Evans, Owen Hargreaves and the Da Silva brothers were already absent. Ferguson moved Gary Neville to central defence and put Fletcher at right-back. Half-an-hour in this makeshift back four was further disrupted when Kuszczak collided with Neville and the captain was forced off. Carrick was introduced as centre-half. "We'll probably play him there on Wednesday, he's got the height and the composure and I thought he did very well," said Ferguson.

In the circumstances Zola had even more cause to rue the knee injury afflicting Carlton Cole. His absence left West Ham lightweight in attack and they failed to force a save from Kuszczak for nearly an hour. They should have been looking to isolate Fletcher or set Zavon Hines' pace against Neville but their only chance came courtesy of Ryan Giggs who passed across his goal to Hines. Giggs recovered to prevent Jack Collison turning in the cross-shot.

For a long time the champions were restricted to long-range efforts with Darron Gibson, scorer of a brace from distance against Spurs in midweek, striking the corner flag with one effort. However, if you give players of Manchester United's calibre enough chances they will score, as Paul Scholes showed in first-half injury time. Thrice West Ham failed to clear an attack and when Daniel Gabbidon's poor header fell to Scholes he chested the ball past Radoslav Kovac, then lashed in a volley Rob Green could only help into the roof of the net. It was a stunning goal, and an impressive performance, from a man who talked yesterday of retiring as he "was no longer making an impact".

"The first goal changed the game," said Zola. "We were defending quite well, we needed one more minute." Confirmation that the game was over came on the hour as Gibson drove in from 25 yards after Giggs and Wayne Rooney had sliced West Ham open. Ten minutes later Rooney and Anderson set up Antonio Valencia. A minute later a sweet passing move involving Scholes, Rooney, Dimitar Berbatov and Valencia ended with Rooney tapping in.

Wes Brown limped off in the closing minutes leaving the visitors a man short but it mattered not. Green had already departed having thrown up in his goal area. A bug was the cause, though it may have been his response to the ineptness in front of him.

Attendance: 34,980

Referee: Peter Walton

Man of the match: Giggs

Match rating: 7/10

Sport
sportSo, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Arts and Entertainment
Dennis speaks to his French teacher
tvThe Boy in the Dress, TV review
News
One father who couldn't get One Direction tickets for his daughters phoned in a fake bomb threat and served eight months in a federal prison
people... (and one very unlucky giraffe)
Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
The Plaza Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia was one of the 300 US cinemas screening
filmTim Walker settles down to watch the controversial gross-out satire
Arts and Entertainment
Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz in Tim Burton's Big Eyes
film reviewThis is Tim Burton’s most intimate and subtle film for a decade
Life and Style
Mark's crab tarts are just the right size
food + drinkMark Hix cooks up some snacks that pack a punch
Arts and Entertainment
Jack O'Connell stars as Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie's Unbroken
film review... even if Jack O'Connell is excellent
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that? The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that?

The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year
Hollande's vanity project is on a high-speed track to the middle of nowhere

Vanity project on a high-speed track to nowhere

France’s TGV network has become mired in controversy
Sports Quiz of the Year

Sports Quiz of the Year

So, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry, his love of 'Bargain Hunt', and life as a llama farmer

Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry and his love of 'Bargain Hunt'

From Armstrong and Miller to Pointless
Sanchez helps Gunners hold on after Giroud's moment of madness

Sanchez helps Gunners hold on

Olivier Giroud's moment of madness nearly costs them
A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect