United nail Hammers

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MANCHESTER UNITED continued their recent good run of form as they moved level on points with Arsenal at the top of The Premiership with a comfortable 3-0 win over West Ham at Old Trafford on Saturday afternoon.

Goals from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Juan Sebastian Veron and an unfortunate own goal from Sebastian Schemmel were enough to give United all three points and lift them into second spot for a few hours at least.

The defeat extended West Ham's miserable run to eight games without a win and leaves them still rooted to the bottom of the table.

West Ham started brightly, but fell behind after 15 minutes with United's first real attack of the game.

Van Nistelrooy started the move sending Gary Neville racing clear down the right and his inviting cross picked out Solskjaer whose header at the front post took a wicked deflection off the unlucky Tomas Repka to leave Hammers keeper David James helpless.

United doubled their lead two minutes later with a superb free kick from Veron as the Argentine ace netted his second league goal in a week.

Repka fouled Van Nistelrooy on the edge of the box and Veron stepped up to smash a blistering free kick high into the top left-hand corner of the net.

Van Nistelrooy missed a great chance to wrap up the game after 37 minutes turning Christian Dailly in the box, but James was off his line quick to save the Dutchman's shot with his feet.

West Ham were unlucky not to pull a goal back two minutes before the break when Jermain Defoe was adjudged to have been offside when he latched onto a loose ball inside the box and blasted home past Fabien Barthez, although John O'Shea appeared to be playing the young striker onside out on the left.

United continued their dominance in the second half and Van Nistelrooy really should have got his name on the score-sheet in the 56th minute when he raced clear on goal from Ryan Giggs' defence-splitting pass, but James did well to tackle the Dutchman as he tried to round the England goalkeeper.

The home side finally did add to their lead with the third goal just past the hour mark with an unfortunate own goal from Schemmel after a fine flowing passing move.

United put together 22 passes without West Ham touching the ball before Neville advanced down the right and sent in a teasing centre across the six-yard box which the unlucky Schemmel inadvertently could only stab into his own net.

West Ham almost pulled a goal back in the 77th minute when Wes Brown headed Scott Minto's dangerous cross inadvertently towards his own goal, but the untroubled Barthez produced a smart reaction save to keep the ball out.

Substitute Diego Forlan nearly added to his recent goal tally ten minutes from time with a well-struck left-footed shot from the edge of the box, but James got down well to push away the Uruguayan's effort.

West Ham pushed forward late on in search of a consolation but the United defence kept them at bay as they made it three clean sheets in a row.

The win leaves United in second spot for a few hours at least, but Chelsea can overtake them with victory over Middlesbrough later on Saturday.

Manchester United 3 - 0 West Ham

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