United's Januzaj thrives and then dives
ADNAN Januzaj and Danny Welbeck celebrated milestone Old Trafford goals as defending champions Manchester United beat West Ham United 3-1 in the Premier League on Saturday.
The recent improvement shown by United under manager David Moyes continued in a comfortable victory for his side, but it was the performance of winger Januzaj that will dominate the headlines - for both the right and wrong reasons.
The 18-year-old, blossoming in his first full season in the Premier League, scored a wonderful goal after 36 minutes, playing a one-two with Welbeck and leaving defender James Collins on the seat of his pants as he switched feet and finished with an angled shot into the far corner.
That goal - Januzaj's first at Old Trafford - doubled United's lead and had Moyes' predecessor, Alex Ferguson, on his feet in the directors' box, showing his approval with rapturous applause.
It also came just after Januzaj had a strong penalty appeal rejected as he went down under contact from Mark Noble, with Collins voicing his disapproval to the United man as he lay on the ground.
If there was a degree of sympathy for Januzaj in that instance, there was none just before the interval when he made an outrageous dive - in the general vicinity of Collins - and rightly earned a yellow card from referee Michael Jones.
Welbeck's opening goal, 10 minutes before Januzaj's, was no less impressive and marked the England forward's first at his home ground in 14 months.
Wayne Rooney created the goal, responding quickly by gathering a quickly taken free kick and facilitating a one-two with Welbeck, whose low shot passed beneath West Ham goalkeeper Adrian, who was making his league debut.
The second half began with United in equally ambitious mood; their passing slicker, more enterprising and accurate than has been the case for much of this disappointing season.
With Welbeck limping slightly, Javier Hernandez was brought on early in the second period. The Mexican got the ball in the net after 68 minutes but was called back for offside.
The disappointment of that decision did not last long, however, and another United substitute, Ashley Young, stretched the advantage to three goals minutes later.
Rafael da Silva's long ball sent Antonio Valencia scurrying down the right and he pulled the ball back into the area for Rooney.
The United talisman, in turn, selflessly picked out the unmarked Young, who curled an unstoppable shot into the top right-hand corner of the West Ham goal.
West Ham's consolation came after 81 minutes, when Modibo Maiga caught United's back line unaware and slipped a pass through for substitute Carlton Cole, who advanced half the length of the field before shooting past David de Gea.
Victory took United up to seventh place in the table, eight points behind new leaders Liverpool and five points shy of the top four, while West Ham remain one place above the relegation zone in 17th.