Manchester United and West Ham United met in the Premier League just three days before this game, playing out a 1-1 draw despite the Red Devils dominating proceedings.
And United fans could be forgiven for fearing the same fate again with the scores level at half-time, but outstanding attacking performances from Anthony Martial, Wayne Rooney, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Zlatan Ibrahimovic saw United finally rack up the kind of scoreline that they’ve been threatening in recent weeks.
It was West Ham who scored an early goal on Sunday but this time it was the Red Devils who quickly took the lead. After latching onto a forward pass from Rooney, Mkhitaryan broke through and released Ibrahimovic with a delightful back-heel; the veteran Swede made no mistake with his finish.
Ibrahimovic almost had a second five minutes later but Adrian twice denied the United striker in quick succession.
The home side were dominating possession throughout the first half and Martial was presented with a scoring chance after half an hour. The Frenchman broke away with Ibrahimovic and Mkhitaryan and the latter found the 20-year-old inside the penalty area with a superb first-time pass; Martial’s shot was accurate but tame and Adrian easily saved.
The Hammers found themselves gifted with a route back into the game in the 35th minute when the usually reliable David dea Gea spilled Dimitri Payet’s 20-yard shot straight in the path of Ashley Fletcher. The former United youngster netted from six yards to register his first goal for West Ham.
At half-time Luke Shaw was taken off and replaced by Daley Blind. With no apparent injury, it appeared that Shaw’s removal was a reflection of his performance in the first 45 minutes.
United started the second period as they began the first: with an early goal, this time from Martial. The move started with a magnificent back-heel from Antonio Valencia to pick out Mkhitaryan down the right. The Armenian then slid the ball across the penalty area to Martial who rifled home from 15 yards to make it 2-1.
A 53rd minute booking for Rooney means that he will miss Sunday’s clash with his former club Everton. The England captain was unfortunate to even concede a foul as he appeared to make no contact with Cheikhou Kouyate, but the yellow card was brandished for the 31-year-old’s admonishing of the referee.
Some wonderful link-up play between Ibrahimovic and Rooney presented Martial with a chance to score his second but the Frenchman’s shot was straight at Adrian.
On the hour mark, Ibrahimovic again forced Adrian into action with a powerfully struck 25-yard free-kick, but the Swede’s effort was too central to seriously trouble the Spanish goalkeeper.
Two minutes later, Ibrahimovic produced the pass of the game to pick out Valencia inside the penalty area, allowing the Ecuadorian winger-cum-full-back to square for Martial to bag his second goal of the game.
As the game moved into its final 10 minutes, Ibrahimovic came close with a measured effort from a tight angle, but the Hammers’ goalkeeper was again on hand to thwart the former Paris Saint Germain striker, palming his shot away from the bottom corner.
In the 86th minute, the lesser spotted Bastian Schweinsteiger came off the bench to a standing ovation from the Old Trafford faithful. The German midfielder replaced Martial to make his first appearance of the season.
Schweinsteiger provided one the final moments of excitement of the night with a 25-yard shot that whistled wide of the far post, before Ibrahimovic netted in the third minute of stoppage time to seal a 4-1 victory.