Robin van Persie preserved Manchester United’s advantage at the top of the Premier League table with a goal after just 32 seconds against West Ham.
The goal, which was the fastest in the Premier League this season, proved enough for a 1-0 victory against a West Ham side that remained in contention until the death. A rare clean sheet for United is likely to please Sir Alex Ferguson, although he will doubtless have hoped to have won with a greater degree of comfort.
A straight forward win is what looked on the agenda as Van Persie struck his 12th goal since arriving at Old Trafford from Arsenal in the summer inside the first minute. The Dutchman displayed a brilliant piece of skill to receive a Michael Carrick pass with his back to goal on the edge of the box before turning past Winston Reid and hitting a left-footed shot that deflected off the outstretched leg of James Coillins and looped over the stranded Jussi Jaaskelainen.
Despite dominating possession with a midfield featuring Carrick and Anderson behind Wayne Rooney, Manchester United failed to capitalize on their early advantage. Javier Hernandez was unable to continue his recent fine form in front of goal as he struck a shot wide and also saw an effort saved by West Ham’s veteran Finnish keeper.
Entering the final stages, 1-0 is always a dangerous score line and West Ham came close to emerging with a point as Anders Lindegaard did well to turn away an effort from substitute Carlton Cole.
But on reflection Ferguson will likely care little that they were not at their best and will instead look to the Premier League table that sees them still a solitary point over the side that took away their title last season—Manchester City.