Rooney sends United through

Wayne Rooney, centre, lifts his arms to the sky after scoring in the first half

Wayne Rooney, centre, lifts his arms to the sky after scoring in the first half

First published in National Sport News © by

Wayne Rooney scored the only goal of the game to earn Manchester United victory against West Ham and set up an FA Cup fourth round tie with Fulham.

Rooney also missed a second-half penalty - the fifth time United have failed from the spot this season - as the home side survived a spirited second-half rally from West Ham.

It was Rooney's ninth goal of the season and extended a purple patch that began prior to his knee injury, since when Robin van Persie, Javier Hernandez and Danny Welbeck have all impressed, underlining the strength within Sir Alex Ferguson's striking department.

Another of the men returning from injury, Anderson, provided the slide-rule pass for Hernandez to set up Rooney.

He also set up Nani, whose volley was curling in at the far post before it was brilliantly cleared off the line by Daniel Potts.

With West Ham's injury-hit side failing completely to plug the holes in midfield, United threatened to run amok.

No-one enjoyed themselves more than Ryan Giggs, who exploited the vast gaps to produce a virtuoso display that made him look far younger than 39.

Chris Smalling had a header saved by Jussi Jaaskelainen and Alexander Buttner's low cross struck a post. West Ham reached half-time still in contention, allowing Sam Allardyce to inject some much-needed self-belief.

United were fortunate Rafael was in the right place to prevent Matt Taylor's square ball reaching Ricardo Vaz Te. Taylor then curled an excellent chance over before Smalling managed to nick the ball away from Kevin Nolan just as the Hammers substitute was about to shoot from close range.

The hosts should have sealed their fourth-round spot after Jordan Spence handled Giggs' cross. Rooney, though, blazed over, the effort sailing so high neither he nor his manager looked like they could quite believe it.

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