A milestone goal for Marcus Rashford ensured Manchester United beat West Ham 1-0 in the Premier League on Sunday.
On the 85th anniversary of a mammoth run that has seen United name an academy graduate in every matchday squad since 1937, it was one of their best of recent times who headed them in front, with Rashford's 100th goal for the club the difference between the two sides.
The Red Devils weren't at the races when looking at their performances in recent times, but with a handful of changes, perhaps that was to be expected. While lacking fluidity, they didn't lack belief and stayed switched on throughout the second half to keep the Hammers at arms length, who themselves were poor.
Stray passes and careless spells of possession summarised the opening exchanges, with the best chance falling to Rashford, whose powerful header was saved comfortably by Lukasz Fabianski after 16 minutes.
Thilo Kehrer found himself slaloming through red shirts after 26 minutes and managed to slip through Jarrod Bowen inside the box as West Ham grew into the game, but David de Gea saved a shot that would eventually be flagged for offside.
United were misfiring in attack, with wholesale changes to the frontline looking all too evident. But just as they appeared to be stuck in second gear, a slick interchange between Christian Eriksen and Bruno Fernandes allowed Rashford to make amends for earlier on by heading in at the back post, giving United the lead at the break.
Gianluca Scamacca was fortunate not to receive a second yellow card early on in the second half, when his high foot connected with the head of Lisandro Martinez. Mere moments after that, Rashford burst down the other end and whistled a shot inches wide of the far post, almost doubling United's lead.
Proceedings trundled through to the hour mark, with Erik ten Hag's side still looking wasteful in possession, but West Ham unable to capitalise.
Lisandro Martinez did incredibly well to anticipate a ball to the back post and head clear after 77 minutes, denying West Ham from a promising position.
Inevitably, the pressure increased from David Moyes' side in the closing stages with the game separated by just the one goal. Michail Antonio forced a comfortable save out of David de Gea, but Kurt Zouma's header from the resulting corner had the Spaniard at full stretch.
That search for an equaliser allowed United to play on the break, and they were denied a second by the post when Fred arrived late to head a cross towards goal. West Ham continued to knock on the door, but Bowen's point-blank effort somehow evaded the bottom corner and Rice's long-range strike was palmed away by De Gea, securing three points that lift United to fifth in the league table.
Manchester United vs West Ham player ratings - Premier League
1. Man Utd (4-2-3-1)
GK: David de Gea - 7/10 - Finally called into action late on, but answered all questions. Fantastic save to deny Zouma.
RB: Diogo Dalot - 8/10 - Incredibly concentrated defensive performance to keep West Ham out at the back post. Mature.
CB: Harry Maguire - 6/10 - Hadn't dusted off the cobwebs that come with a spell on the sidelines. Improved somewhat after the break, though.
CB: Lisandro Martinez - 8/10 - Positioned himself excellently to snuff out danger. Always looking for a forward pass, too. Absolutely superb again.
LB: Luke Shaw - 5/10 - Not his most assured display. Looked a little out of sorts at times.
CM: Casemiro - 7/10 - Another classy, complete performance from the Brazilian, who becomes more integral with each passing week.
CM: Christian Eriksen - 7/10 - So, so slick with his range of pass. Makes United tick and put the ball on a silver platter for Rashford.
RW: Anthony Elanga - 4/10 - An underwhelming return to the starting XI for the Sweden international. Very quiet.
AM: Bruno Fernandes - 7/10 - Linked up tremendously with Eriksen for United's opener.
LW: Marcus Rashford - 8/10 - An intense Rashford is a seriously, seriously impressive Rashford. His second header in as many games was also his 100th goal for the club - the perfect early birthday present.
ST: Cristiano Ronaldo - 5/10 - As usual, incredibly quiet when not awkwardly coming short for a touch or trying to poach inside the penalty area. Two chances on the hour mark that you'd expect him to score; neither went in.
SUB: Scott McTominay (61' for Elanga) - 5/10 - Gave United more industry when defending inside their box.
SUB: Fred (79' for Eriksen) - 5/10 - Didn't help to control the midfield; bad. But then went down the other end and hit the post; good. A textbook Fred cameo.
Manager: Erik ten Hag - 8/10 - Not the best performance from his side on the pitch, but another three points with players rotated. United look more and more like a Ten Hag-influenced team with each passing week.
2. West Ham (4-2-3-1)
GK: Lukasz Fabianski - N/A - Didn't emerge for the second half after struggling with an injury earlier on.
RB: Thilo Kehrer - 6/10 - Not afraid to try his luck venturing forward, but fell asleep as United pulled ahead. Stretched the game well later on.
CB: Craig Dawson - 5/10 - No calamites, but the game passed him by.
CB: Kurt Zouma - 5/10 - Booed by the home side every time the ball came to him. That's about all there is to report.
LB: Aaron Cresswell - 6/10 - Kept Elanga very quiet, but didn't steal headlines himself.
CM: Tomas Soucek - 4/10 - Didn't see anywhere near enough of the ball.
CM: Declan Rice - 5/10 - Tried to get West Ham forward at the base of midfield, but didn't have much luck.
RW: Jarrod Bowen - 4/10 - Didn't make the most of Shaw looking shaky, and absolutely had to score at the death. Got to hit it cleaner.
AM: Flynn Downes - 5/10 - Looked lost trying to play as the advanced midfielder for West Ham. Probably suits a deeper position.
LW: Said Benrahma - 7/10 - Rinsed Casemiro with a sublime roulette early doors and had other United players looking nervous. West Ham's bright spark in transition.
ST: Gianluca Scamacca - 5/10 - Starved of service by his colleagues. Frustrations showed with a risky high foot.
SUB: Alphonse Areola (45' for Fabianski) - 6/10 - Wasn't tested all too often after coming on.
SUB: Michail Antonio (57' for Scamacca) - 6/10 - Moved away from defenders more regularly, but suffered the same fate as the man he replaced.
SUB: Pablo Fornals (77' for Downes) - N/A
Manager: David Moyes - 4/10 - Moyes' poor record at Old Trafford goes on. Punished for not trying to take risks. His side could've snatched something with United not at 100%, but they were set up too conservatively.