Van Persie goal earns United 1-0 win over West Ham

Robin van Persie’s first-minute strike earned Manchester United

a nervy 1-0 win over West Ham on Wednesday, keeping the team top of

the Premier League by a point ahead of archrival Manchester

City.

The Netherlands striker grabbed his ninth league goal when his

shot deflected off James Collins and over the head of goalkeeper

Jussi Jaaskelainen after just 32 seconds, making it the quickest

goal in the league this campaign.

With United lacking any real fluency, Carlton Cole came close to

snatching a draw for the mid-table visitors but his close-range

attempt was blocked by goalkeeper Anders Lindegaard.

United’s fourth straight home win kept City at arm’s length

after the champions’ 2-0 victory at Wigan on Wednesday, and saw Van

Persie get back in the goals after three scoreless games. He now

has 12 goals in 18 matches in all competitions this season after

his move from Arsenal in August.

”Robin van Persie is a quality player and we have largely kept

him quiet,” West Ham manager Sam Allardyce said. ”But he will

score 20 goals for Manchester United, maybe 30, (this

campaign).”

His effort had more than a hint of good fortune in it, flicking

a pass from Michael Carrick over marker Winston Reid before seeing

his attempted lob loop off Collins into the net.

United failed to kick on, though, and was kept largely quiet by

a compact West Ham side.

”We got a great start,” United manager Alex Ferguson said.

”You hope to go on from a start like that and some of our football

was very good, but we never quite finished them off.”

With Wayne Rooney struggling to make an impact as an attacking

midfielder, West Ham tried to respond through shots by Kevin Nolan

and Andy Carroll that both flew off target.

United ended up hanging on for a scrappy victory, with the team

yet to click this season.

”Of course, City are on our tails so it is going to be a long

season,” Ferguson said.

The first Manchester derby takes place at City’s Etihad Stadium

on Dec. 9.