- POSTED: 22 Dec 2013 02:45
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Adnan Januzaj and Danny Welbeck celebrated milestone Old Trafford goals as defending champions Manchester United beat West Ham United 3-1 in the Premier League on Saturday.
MANCHESTER, United Kingdom: Adnan Januzaj and Danny Welbeck celebrated milestone Old Trafford goals as defending champions Manchester United beat West Ham United 3-1 in the Premier League on Saturday.
The recent improvement shown by United under manager David Moyes continued in a comfortable victory for his side, but it was the performance of winger Januzaj that will dominate the headlines, for the right and wrong reasons.
The teenager, blossoming in his first full season in the Premier League, scored a wonderful goal after 36 minutes, playing a one-two with Welbeck and leaving defender James Collins on the seat of his pants as he switched feet and finished with an angled shot into the far corner.
That goal, Januzaj's first at Old Trafford, doubled United's lead and had Moyes's predecessor Alex Ferguson on his feet in the directors' box, showing his approval with rapturous applause.
It also came less than a minute after Januzaj had a strong penalty appeal rejected as he went down under contact from Mark Noble, with Collins voicing his disapproval to the United man as he lay on the ground.
If there was a degree of sympathy for Januzaj in that instance, there was none just before the interval when he made an outrageous dive, in the general vicinity of Collins, and correctly earned a yellow card from referee Michael Jones.
Welbeck's opening goal, 10 minutes before Januzaj's, was no less impressive and marked the England forward's first at his home ground for 14 months.
Wayne Rooney created the goal, responding quickly by gathering a quickly taken free-kick and facilitating a one-two with Welbeck, whose low shot passed beneath West Ham goalkeeper Adrian, who was making his league debut.
The Spaniard had been far more impressive in the opening minute, making a one-handed save to keep out a fierce Tom Cleverley drive.
Rooney chipped just over, Adrian kept out Antonio Valencia's deflected, near-post effort and Valencia, again, wasted a decent opening as United looked more like their old selves.
The second half began with United in equally ambitious mood; their passing slicker, more enterprising and accurate than has been the case for much of this disappointing season.
A testing Januzaj cross was almost turned in by Welbeck at close range and the resulting corner was powered goalwards by Jonny Evans, with Noble making a goal-line clearance.
With Welbeck limping slightly, and in the continued absence of the injured Robin van Persie, Javier Hernandez was brought on early in the second period and the Mexican had the ball in the net after 68 minutes but was called back for offside.
The disappointment of that decision did not last long, however, and another United substitute, Ashley Young, stretched the advantage to three goals just four minutes later.
Rafael da Silva's long ball sent Valencia scurrying down the right and he pulled the ball back into the area for Rooney.
The United talisman, in turn, selflessly picked out the unmarked Young, who curled an unstoppable shot into the top right-hand corner of the West Ham goal.
West Ham's consolation came after 81 minutes when Modibo Maiga caught United's back line unaware and slipped a pass through for substitute Carlton Cole, who advanced half the length of the field before shooting past David de Gea.
Victory took United up to seventh place in the table, eight points behind new leaders Liverpool and five points shy of the top four, while West Ham remain one place above the relegation zone in 17th.