Poor night for Jonny Evans as Manchester United thrashed by West Ham
West Ham United 4 Manchester United 0: West Ham dumped holders Manchester United out of the Carling Cup with a stunning victory inspired by Jonathan Spector's first goals in English football — and compounded by a nightmare performance from Northern Ireland defender Jonny Evans.
Spector — a former United player — had never scored during his six seasons in the Barclays Premier League but the USA defender struck twice to begin a rout that sent Hammers fans delirious.
Further damage was done by Carlton Cole after the interval with the England marksman taking advantage of Evans’ hesitancy in the centre of United’s defence and pouncing twice to bring the feeble visitors crashing back down to earth after their 7-1 drubbing of Blackburn.
Spector — whose early prowess was discovered by United scout Jimmy Ryan at the Northern Ireland Milk Cup seven years ago — and Cole were brilliantly supported by Victor Obinna with the Nigerian forward, on loan from Inter Milan, having a hand in each goal.
Sir Alex Ferguson made 10 changes to the side that hammered Blackburn last weekend with only Anderson remaining, but the manner of this defeat will still prove difficult to stomach.
Experience was supplied by the likes of Ryan Giggs, Darren Fletcher and John O'Shea but they also wilted in the face of West Ham's onslaught.
Those who had braved the arctic conditions at a near-sold out Upton Park enjoyed a night of high drama, the benefit of which could be felt in the Hammers' Premier League survival bid.
Manager Avram Grant has proved something of a cup specialist but while he will be delighted to see his side through to the semi-finals, he will be just as pleased at having strung together successive victories that could inspire a climb up the table for the struggling Londoners.
Controversy reigned in the 16th minute when West Ham scored through Obinna — only to have the goal ruled out for offside.
Obinna's shot deflected off Spector and the linesman had made the correct decision, but the Hammers were incensed.
Players queued up to demonstrate with referee Mark Clattenburg, who then warned Grant after the Israeli hurled the ball away in disgust after it had gone out of bounds.
Any sense of injustice was soon remedied, however, when Spector — who played for the US under 17s at the Milk Cup — nodded West Ham ahead.
Obinna supplied an exquisite chip that Spector, having crept inside Fletcher, headed into the net.
Emboldened by their goal, West Ham attacked with greater conviction but were almost caught by a United counter that ended with a tame header from Obertan.
Cole almost got the better of Fabio before James Tomkins angled a corner wide and in the 37th minute the home side's ascendancy was rewarded again.
The hapless Fabio was involved as his attempted block of Obinna's shot instead fell into the path of Spector who blasted home from close range.
A header from Bebe was easily saved by Green but most of the action continued to take place at the other end.
A dreadful blunder from Green, who until now had looked rock-solid, almost let United in with his clearance hitting the back of Federico Macheda.
The ball deflected into the path of Javier Hernandez but reinforcements arrived for the Hammers to clear the danger in the nick of time.
United were pouring forward as the expected fightback began in earnest, only to be halted in their tracks in the 55th minute when they were caught on the break.
The superb Obinna was the supplier with his inch-perfect cross met by Cole, who got in ahead of Evans and headed the ball home.
There was still more to come from West Ham, however, as little over 10 minutes later Cole once again took advantage of Evans’ hesitancy to slam home his second after being set up by Obinna.
Evans was then replaced by Wes Brown, thus capping his miserable night.