Giggs fires Utd back to summit

2009-02-08 20:01

London - Manchester United hammered out a statement of intent to their title rivals as the champions returned to the top of the Premier League with a 1-0 win at West Ham on Sunday.

Sir Alex Ferguson's side had arrived in east London in second place after Liverpool's late 3-2 fightback at Portsmouth 24 hours earlier.

But United showed they have no intention of relinquishing their crown as Ryan Giggs' second half goal sent them two points clear of Rafael Benitez's second placed side.

By the time Liverpool are next in action that lead will have extended to five points if United win their game in hand against Fulham on February 18.

The Old Trafford outfit are beginning to have the look of champions again and this was the kind of obdurate display that has become their hallmark this season.

For decades Ferguson has prided himself on producing teams who dazzle with their flair, but this crop of United stars are just as happy to grind out a 1-0 victory as they are to put on a show.

United's defensive excellence in recent weeks has reached record-breaking levels and they chalked up another milestone en route to a 13th consecutive cleansheet and an eighth successive win.

Ferguson's back-four needed to be at their best again as West Ham made a tigerish start.

Nemanja Vidic sent Lucas Neill's cross looping just over his own crossbar and from the resulting corner, Australia defender Neill forced Edwin van der Sar into action for the first time with a low strike.

Carlton Cole had a golden chance early on to show why England coach Fabio Capello, watching from the stands, had called the West Ham forward into his squad for Wednesday's friendly against Spain.

Cole had only van der Sar to beat as he surged onto David Di Michele's pass and held off Rio Ferdinand, but his attempted chip was easily stopped by the United keeper.

After a relatively subdued opening, United began to find some momentum.

Dimitar Berbatov had the ball in West Ham's net midway through the first half when he poked home Paul Scholes' deflected shot, but the United striker's effort was correctly ruled out for offside.

A clever corner to the edge of the penalty area by Giggs caught West Ham flat-footed and when Cristiano Ronaldo nudged Scholes' strike towards the top corner, Robert Green was forced to make a reflex tip over.

As the first half drew to a close van der Sar reached another landmark.

By keeping a cleansheet to that point he established a new British league record of 1,156 minutes without conceding a goal - beating the previous high set by Aberdeen's Bobby Clark in 1970-71.

West Ham's eight-match unbeaten run testified to their own fortitude and they pushed forward at the start of the second half, with Neill drawing a smart save from van der Sar.

But United's array of flicks and feints ensured the Hammers could never be comfortable.

With Ronaldo seemingly content to moan rather than mesmerise it was left to Giggs to break the deadlock in the 61st minute with a classic piece of wing-play.

Giggs relies more on experience than trickery nowadays but the Welsh midfielder showed he still has talent as he cut inside Cole's lunging tackle and swerved past Scott Parker into the penalty area before sending a fierce low shot fizzing past Green.

Gianfranco Zola's side responded well and Cole was unlucky to see a flicked effort deflect wide but, although United were never at their best, the feeling grew by the minute that the visitors' defence would remain unbreached again.


  • Dipesh - 2009-02-08 20:44

    Glory Glory Man Utd

  • Anonymous User - 2009-02-08 20:51

    MAN UTD ALL THE WAY........................ world club champs, check champs league - pending premiership - 99% secured FA CUP - 99% secured wow what is that called?? a qaudruple??

  • Mbuso - 2009-02-09 08:42

    I bet Giggs is also the only player to PLAY in every premiership season since it started... Well done none the less. Time for the others to pull up their soccer socks and put up a fight. Nothing worth having is easily acquired.

  • Man4Life - 2009-02-09 09:04

    The performance of Man since November is truly a sign of world class sportsmen. They have their sights set on greatness. The fact that they have not conceded a goal in record breaking matches must be respected. This is without a doubt one of Man's great seasons....go ManU, do us proud

  • Shaheen - 2009-02-09 09:34

    Well done Giggsy! You're a Legend! Back to the summit of the Premier League... it's not over yet, just make sure we keep winning and not slip up, personally I hate "games in hand" because it's points that you have "to still get".

  • Nazeem - 2009-02-10 09:59

    Anyone with half an brain should know better than to dispute United superiority over the rest of the worlds football teams... Besides the talent on the field, we also have a team of physios/scouts/coaches and assistants led by the worlds best, Sir Alex.... Really a team of winners both in front of the cameras and behind..

  • David Appleby - 2009-02-10 15:41

    Come on you reds, magic

  • Anonymous User - 2009-02-10 19:47

    LETS BE HONEST GUYS Liverpool could have had the premiership in the bag already if they didnt draw all those games! the league is all about consistency....which Pool lack!!! benitez and the boys are ready to take on ART Classes costhey so good at drawing

  • Anonymous User - 2009-02-10 19:53

    its gonna be the game of the season when Pool come to Trafford but i suspect that they would have already let the title slip out of their hands by then!!! Anyone can see that Pool is missing gerard cos the game would have been sealed if he was on the field but 1 man shouldnt make the team! i reckon that in the current form that united are in even with Gerard in top form they are gonna lose at Trafford!

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