Vintage Giggs takes Manchester to top in PremiershipFebruary 9th, 2009 - 1:59 pm ICT by IANS
London, Feb 9 (DPA) Manchester United returned to the top of English Premier League football as Ryan Giggs set them on their way to a 1-0 win over West Ham United.
United had offered limited threat Sunday when Giggs hit the superb 62nd-minute winner that puts them two points clear of Liverpool at the top of the table, with a game in hand.
In the day’s other game, Arsenal had Emmanuel Eboue sent off after 36 minutes, but still held on to a goalless draw against Tottenham Hotspur.
West Ham have become an attractive team under Gianfranco Zola’s management, and they were typically enterprising in the first half, without creating much in the way of clear-cut chances.
Perhaps that’s not too surprising against a team that has now not conceded in their last 13 Premier League games.
As the 34th minute ticked by it took goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar to 1,156 minutes without conceding - surpassing the British record set by Aberdeen’s Bobby Clark in the 1970-71 season.
Strangely the United manager Sir Alex Ferguson was one of the forwards who failed to beat Clark in that run, playing for Falkirk in a 1-0 defeat against Aberdeen.
The only real opportunity, in fact, fell to United winger Cristiano Ronaldo, who diverted a wayward Paul Scholes shot goalward only for West Ham keeper Rob Green to make a smart tip-over.
And it was United, though, who took the lead just after the hour.
Paul Scholes swept a glorious pass out to the left wing, where Giggs cut inside a reckless challenge from Carlton Cole, wrong-footed Scott Parker, and stroked a precise finish inside the far post with his right foot.
It was Giggs’s first goal of the season, and maintained his record of having scored in every season since the Premier League came into being in 1992.
History seemed to be in the making at White Hart Lane as well.
Spurs have not beaten their North London rivals in a league game since 1999, and it is a long time since they had a better chance.
Arsenal remain fifth, five points behind Chelsea, while Spurs lie 15th, only two points above Blackburn Rovers in the relegation zone - and Blackburn have a game in hand.
Tottenham’s excellent Luka Modric, now seemingly adjusted to the pace of the Premier League, had the best chance of a breezy first half, forcing Manuel Almunia into a diving save low to his right after turning Alexandre Song.
Arsenal, though, had their chances, and were left bewildered by the decision of referee Mike Dean to disallow a first-half strike from Eboue.
“It was a regular goal,” Wenger told reporters, “and I think it was two points dropped.
“The goal was cancelled because the referee saw an illusionary foul. I have seen it three times on television and I still don’t see what was wrong.
“”He saw a push from Eboue, but in fact it was (Tottenham defender Jonathan) Woodgate who stumbled over Adebayor and fell down.
“It is not acceptable. I am not against the referee, but he got a big decision wrong.”
The away side’s hopes of victory then suffered two major blows in the space of two minutes.
First striker Adebayor pulled up on 34 minutes with what appeared to be a hamstring injury, and then, before he had been replaced, Eboue was sent off.
Already cautioned for dissent, the Ivory Coast international collected a second yellow for an off-the-ball trip on Modric.
The second half was a story of Tottenham domination without penetration, although Modric was denied a last-gasp winner only by the feet of Almunia.