Rooney’s effort from distance inside 10 minutes completely bamboozled Adrian in the Hammers goal as the ball bounced once before flying into the roof of the net in a goal that evoked memories of David Beckham’s iconic strike against Wimbledon in 1996.
And the England striker doubled the visitors’ lead when the unfortunate Mark Noble saw his clearance spin out to Rooney, who could not miss from inside the six-yard box.
Rooney spurned a couple of decent openings for a hat-trick as United threatened to run away with the match before the break.
United ground out victory after the restart with West Ham failing to create a meaningful chance despite a succession of corners, as the makeshift defensive pairing of Michael Carrick and Phil Jones held firm.
Defeat leaves the Hammers six points from safety with eight games remaining.
4’ - HACKED OFF THE LINE! Fellaini rises, unmarked, in the middle and heads at goal. Carroll is alive to the situation to clear off the line.
8’ - WHAT A GOAL FROM ROONEY! West Ham 0-1 Man United. The England striker lets the ball bounce over his shoulder on the halfway line before unleashing a crazy shot from 50 odd yards. Adrian loses his bearings and it flies into the net! David Beckham watches on with a smile.
33’ - GOAL! West Ham 0-2 Man United. Oh dear. Noble's clearance lands at the feet of Rooney, and the England striker simply can't miss from two yards out.
45+2’ - ROONEY SKEWS WIDE! The ball sits up perfectly for a Rooney volley but instead of lashing into the top corner, his effort flies off the side of his boot and nearly goes out for a throw.
51’ - GREAT UNITED DEFENDING! The ball pings around the penalty area with Carroll and Demel unable to break through the wall of United shirts.
Man Utd have won 30 points away from home - the best such record in the Premier League this season. (Infostrada)
West Ham have not won in their 63 Premier League matches when behind by two or more goals at half-time (60 defeats). (Infostrada)
Man Utd are unbeaten in their last 60 Premier League matches when leading at half-time – since the 2-1 defeat at Chelsea on March 1st 2011. (Infostrada)
Wayne Rooney has now scored seven Premier League goals at Upton Park – only Andy Cole (eight at Anfield), Les Ferdinand (nine at Goodison Park) and Alan Shearer (ten at Elland Road) have scored more PL career goals at a particular away stadium. (Infostrada)
Can United upset City in the Manchester derby? It might only be victories against Olympiakos and West Ham, but there’s a real sense of optimism around United now. The Liverpool defeat is firmly in the past and a hugely encouraging display at Upton Park means their fans can now head to Old Trafford on Tuesday night without fearing a mauling.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Wayne Rooney (Manchester United): His opener will feature in Premier League montages for years to come.
West Ham: Adrian 5, McCartney 5, Collins 5, Tomkins 5, Taylor 6, Noble 6, Demel 6, Diame 5, Nolan 5, Downing 6, Carroll 6. Subs: Jarvis 6, Cole 6, Nocerino 6.
Manchester United: De Gea 6, Rafael 5, Jones 7, Carrick 7, Buttner 6, Mata 7, Fletcher 6, Fellaini 7, Young 6, Kagawa 7, Rooney 8. Subs: Hernadez 6, Welbeck 6.
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