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

Alan Bennett criticised the lack of fairness in British society encapsulated by the private school system
peopleBut he does like Stewart Lee
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
Life and Style
Alan Turing, who was convicted of gross indecency in 1952, was granted a royal pardon last year
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Arts and Entertainment
Tennis player Andy Murray's mum Judy has been paired with Anton du Beke for Strictly Come Dancing. 'I'm absolutely delighted,' she said.
tvJudy Murray 'struggling' to let Anton Du Beke take control on Strictly
Life and Style
Vote with your wallet: the app can help shoppers feel more informed about items on sale
lifeNew app reveals political leanings of food companies
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of Dark Side of the Moon
musicCan 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition? See for yourself
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
Arts and Entertainment
Worldwide ticket sales for The Lion King musical surpassed $6.2bn ($3.8bn) this summer
tvMusical is biggest grossing show or film in history
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
Arts and Entertainment
Salmond told a Scottish television chat show in 2001that he would also sit in front of a mirror and say things like,
tvCelebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Life and Style
food + drink
Rob Merrick's Lobby Journalists were playing Ed Balls' Labour Party MPs. The match is an annual event which takes place ahead of the opening of the party conference
newsRob Merrick insistes 'Ed will be hurting much more than me'
A cabin crew member photographed the devastation after one flight
Life and Style
Carol O'Brien, whose son Rob suffered many years of depression
healthOne mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Day In a Page

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits