Wayne Rooney’s on-field antics gave Manchester United an early lead, then forced them to hold on for their lives.
A strong strike in the fifth minute was the first of the Red Devils two goals — Robin van Persie also scored — but a 59th minute moment of madness from the Manchester United captain forced his club into a half-hour of 10-man ball.
United is up to eight points through six matches, and moves up to sixth-place in the table.
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Diafra Sakho scored for West Ham, which now has seven points through six matches.
United showed danger right from the jump, with Angel Di Maria earning a free kick off a harsh tackle from Alex Song, and Radamel Falcao nearly getting on the end of a 2nd minute opportunity.
And Rooney, on his 10th anniversary with the club, made sure the scoring did start early. Rafael sent a cross in from the right and Wayne Rooney used his right for a pretty, devious shot that beat Adrian to make it 1-0 in the 5th minute.
Truly, Manchester United carried the play. The Hammers looked overwhelmed by the Red Devils quick ball movement and ability to find open looks, but the finish was inconsistent and — credit to West Ham — plenty of chances were blocked.
Van Persie made it 2-0 in the 22nd minute when Adrian scrambled to get back into goal after a poor clearance and RVP caught the keeper off-balance to net side panel. Radamel Falcao provided the pass to spring the Dutchman.
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Red Devils keeper David De Gea found himself out of position off a cross in the 37th minute, and it ended poorly for the Spaniard. Hammers striker Diafra Sakho continued his torrid start to Premier League play by nodding home to make it 2-1.
At halftime there was a brilliant bit of wisdom from former Wales player John Hartson, “Marcos Rojo and Patrick McNair have probably never had a conversation before today but they are Manchester United’s main central defensive pairing.”
Would that prove to be a problem? We won’t really be able to judge, because Rooney took one of the silliest red cards you’ll see. The Manchester United captain high-kicked Stewart Downing in the knee as the Hammers midfielder was running away with the play.
United buckled down, substituting Darren Fletcher and Antonio Valencia for Falcao and Ander Herrera. The Red Devils impressed in closing down West Ham opportunities.
Kevin Nolan looked to have found a 90th minute equalizer, but the linesman called the West Ham man offsides. Replays revealed it to be extremely close, and the Irons were likely done wrong.
Manchester United: De Gea, Rafael, McNair, Rojo, Shaw, Blind, Herrera (Valencia, 74′), Di Maria (Thorpe, 90+4′), Rooney, van Persie, Falcao (Fletcher, 65′)
Goals: Rooney (5′), Van Persie (22′)
Red card: Rooney (59′)
West Ham United: Adrian, Reid, Cresswell, Tomkins, Downing, Sakho, Demel (Jenkinson, 65′), Amalfitano (Cole, 61′), Poyet (Nolan, 73′), Song (c), Valencia
Goal: Sakho (37′)