United pay Best possible tribute
By Alex Livie. Last Updated: January 1, 1970 1:00am
Manchester United paid the perfect tribute to George Best by coming from behind to claim a 2-1 victory at West Ham.
The Red Devils were determined to put on a show befitting of arguably the club's greatest ever player and they produced a performance which would have had Best purring with admiration.
Marlon Harewood attempted to spoil the party with a goal for The Hammers inside 60 seconds, but the visitors were not deterred and Wayne Rooney inspired them to victory.
The youngster has huge expectation on his broad shoulders, but the weight does not look to be playing on him as he scored the equaliser and played a key part in John O'Shea's winner as The Red Devils bounced back from the midweek draw with Villarreal.
Alan Pardew has livened up The Premiership with his attacking philosophy and the move paid off just a minute in against Manchester United.
The Hammers took possession off their opponents and a flick from old stager Teddy Sheringham set Matthew Etherington galloping down the left.
The danger did not seem apparent at first glance, but Etherington delivered a sumptuous pass into the path of Harewood and he did not have to break stride as he slotted home with aplomb at the near post.
The visitors were not knocked out of their stride and only the returning Roy Carroll kept The Hammers in the ascendancy.
The former Red Devil will have seen Ruud van Nistelrooy's deadly finishing in training on many occasions and it could have aided his cause as he flung himself to his left to push the Dutchman's weak shot to safety.
Paul Scholes cannot buy a goal at present and he turned away in disbelief on 12 minutes as Carroll somehow turned his effort round the post for a corner after the former England international had been teed-up superbly by Park Ji-sung.
The Hammers were not overawed by their opponents' effervescence and only a blatant tug back on the edge of the area by Mikael Silvestre prevented Harewood from seeing the whites of Edwin van der Sar's eyes and the French stopper was fortunate referee Steve Bennett only pulled out a yellow.
West Ham went close to gaining compensation as only the head of van Nistelrooy diverted Yossi Benayoun's free kick away from goal.
The breathless tempo continued as Carroll pulled off his third top-class save of the half as he dived to his left to push out a low shot from Rooney.
Harewood was a thorn in the side of The Red Devils' backline in the opening 45 minutes and his dynamic performance prompted Sir Alex Ferguson to shuffle his pack and he pulled Mikael Silvestre from the line of fire after a torrid 37 minutes.
Ferguson paid tribute to George Best on Friday and stated his hope that a player of comparable talent could emerge at Old Trafford and in Wayne Rooney there could be such a player.
And on the weekend the football world paid tribute to Best, it was perhaps fitting that Rooney scored to bring The Red Devils back into the game.
South Korean Park dispossessed Tomas Repka and fed the ball into the path of Rooney who stepped inside Daniel Gabbidon before shooting under the previously unbeatable Carroll.
Moments later Rooney proved he is fallible as he took an air shot from eight yards after being played in by Scholes.
They hardly needed it, but the goal provided the visitors with added impetus and Rooney saw a shot blocked by Gabbidon, but from the resulting corner O'Shea climbed high to power a header home.
Van Nistelrooy is due a suspension after being booked in the first half and he almost signed off in style, but his sublime chip came back off the bar, while Carroll raced off his line to nick the ball off the Dutchman's toes when looking set to put some gloss on the scoreline.
Rooney almost spoiled what was a fine day for his side when getting booked for taking a wild hack at Gabbidon, while he missed a sitter in the last minute, but it could not prevent Ferguson's men from climbing to second in the table and paying the perfect tribute to an Old Trafford legend.
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West Ham v Man Utd
|West Ham United||Team Statistics||Manchester United|
|1||1st Half Goals||0|
|2||Shots on Target||7|
|7||Shots off Target||5|
Barclays Premier League
|8||West Bromwich Albion||38||49|
|10||West Ham United||38||46|
|20||Queens Park Rangers||38||25|