Upson header upsets champions
Last Updated: 29/12/07 9:11pm
Upson: Headed winner
West Ham United spoiled Carlos Tevez's return to Upton Park after coming from behind to beat Manchester United 2-1.
The champions, suffering a rare off-day, did take the lead on 14 minutes when the in-form Cristiano Ronaldo headed home Ryan Giggs' cross after a sweeping move.
Ronaldo was presented with the chance to make it 2-0 midway through the second half, but he drilled his penalty wide after Jonathan Spector was penalised for handball.
Yet West Ham had been the better side for large swathes of the game and drew level on 77 minutes when substitute Anton Ferdinand headed home Mark Noble's corner.
Noble was the creator for his side's winning goal on 82 minutes, curling in a free-kick from the right which Matthew Upson rose well to meet for his first goal for the club.
The home side squandered a gilt-edged chance when Hayden Mullins shot cannoned back off a post to the recalled Mark Noble, who was horrified to fire over from 10 yards with the goal at his mercy.
United made him regret that even more when they turned their first attack of note into Ronaldo's opener. Louis Saha began the move with a ball to find Ryan Giggs in space and the Portugal international out-paced George McCartney to head home the cross.
Referee Mike Dean ruled that Rio Ferdinand's challenge on Nolberto Solano on the edge of the box near a touchline had been legal to the home fans' fury but the Peruvian almost conjured up an equaliser in the 36th minute.
The ex-Newcastle man latched on to the loose ball after Freddie Ljungberg appeared to have been impeded and instinctively let fly from distance. United goalkeeper Tomasz Kuszczak, who was continuing to deputise for the injured Edwin van der Sar, was alert to the danger however and produced an acrobatic tip-over.
The final chance of the first half also belonged to the Londoners but Carlton Cole, operating as a lone front-man after Dean Ashton was sacrificed to let Noble back in the side, headed the midfielder's pin-point cross over the bar despite having enough time and space to pick his spot.
Solano, who put a free-kick just past a post, was forced off by a leg injury five minutes into the second period and was replaced by John Pantsil. Scott Parker had been hurt in the first half and was replaced in the 56th minute by Anton Ferdinand, previously absent since October because of a hamstring injury.
Mullins was booked for a foul on Ronaldo who then missed a penalty. Ex-United man Jonathan Spector was adjudged to have handled in the box under pressure from substitute Anderson but although Ronaldo's spot-kick did not lack power it flew wide of Green's right-hand post to keep the home side in the game.
Curbishley took that as the perfect cue to send on Ashton in place of Ljungberg for the final 20 minutes and a spell of intense pressure conjured up an equaliser in the 77th minute when Anton Ferdinand rose to head a Noble corner past Kuszczak.
The home side continued to attack and Upson repeated Ferdinand's trick by heading a Noble free-kick beyond the United goalkeeper.
Upton Park erupted as the race for the Barclays Premier League title took another dramatic twist.
|West Ham United||Team Statistics||Manchester United|
|0||1st Half Goals||1|
|3||Shots on Target||3|
|7||Shots off Target||5|
Barclays Premier League
|9||West Ham United||27||39|
|13||West Bromwich Albion||27||30|
|17||Queens Park Rangers||26||22|