Wayne Rooney scored one of the goals of the season as Manchester United recorded a convincing 2-0 victory over West Ham at Upton Park.
The England international showed tremendous awareness, vision and, finally, execution to beat West Ham goalkeeper Adrian with a 45-yard wondergoal. Rooney then scored his second of the match - to move to third on the list of all-time Manchester United goalscorers - when Mark Noble's attempted clearance deflected off him and hit the back of the net before half time.
West Ham had their chances, with Andy Carroll going close on a couple of occasions, but David Moyes' side kept their clean sheet intact to keep their hopes alive of securing European football for next season,
The Red Devils, who looked full of confidence following their 3-0 victory over Olympiakos in the Champions League on Wednesday night, were without star striker Robin van Persie - who could miss the rest of the season through injury - but they didn't appear to miss the Netherlands international.
United's front-four - comprised of Juan Mata, Shinji Kagawa, Ashley Young and Rooney - produced some super inter-play which delighted the travelling supporters.
Mata had already tested Adrian after being played through on goal by Kagawa, before Rooney's moment of magic put United 1-0 up on the eighth minute. The 28-year-old spotted Adrian off his line before hitting his audacious yet pin-point effort into the back of the net. Only Denis Law and Bobby Charlton have now scored more goals for the Red Devils.
David Beckham, watching from the stands at Old Trafford, expressed his appreciation with a knowing smile. The former England and Manchester United star famed, of course, for his goal from the halfway line against Wimbledon in 1996.
West Ham, undeterred by Rooney's moment of genius, went close to levelling the scores through Carroll, who was presented with two opportunities in as many minutes to equalise. The 25-year-old, who hopes to seal a place in Roy Hodgson's England squad for the 2014 World Cup finals in Brazil, first went close with a glancing header from a Kevin Nolan free-kick.
That effort went narrowly wide, but a minute later he hit the target after meeting Stewart Downing's cross with a fine leap. David de Gea, however, was equal to the England international's headed effort.
That was as close as the Hammers came to scoring in the first half, but they went into the break 2-0 down as Rooney doubled the visitors' advantage on the half-hour mark.
West Ham supporters were left incensed because they felt their side should have had a penalty when Darren Fletcher appeared to foul Nolan inside the penalty area. Referee Lee Mason waved play on, while the Red Devils countered at speed through Mata and Young, whose cross was poorly defended by Noble before hitting Rooney and flying into the back of the net.
This led the Manchester United faithful to give a rendition of "we're gonna win the league" - and, while that chant may have been tongue-in-cheek, the away fans must have wondered why their side have failed to produce more performances like today's throughout the course of this season.
West Ham, meanwhile, only ever looked dangerous from set-pieces - but Manchester United, considering Moyes had deployed a makeshift defence, coped admirably with with their opponents' tactics throughout the match.
The away team were in complete control, despite appearing to take their foot off the gas in the second 45, with Tuesday night's Manchester derby against City in mind. Moyes took off Mata and Rooney, who received a standing ovation from his supporters, for Danny Welbeck and Javier Hernandez with just under 15 minutes left to play.
The game was effectively over by this point. A frustrating afternoon for the hosts, but a much-needed three points for the visitors - and a match that will always be remembered thanks to Rooney's world-class goal.
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