By Mark Walker, PA Sport
Marcus Rashford’s 100th goal for Manchester United sealed a 1-0 home win against West Ham and kept them hot on the heels of the Premier League’s top four.
Rashford became the first United player to reach the goalscoring landmark since Wayne Rooney in 2009 and his thumping first-half header helped maintain their steady improvement under Dutch boss Erik ten Hag.
United launched the season with back-to-back league defeats and were thrashed 6-3 by city rivals Manchester City at the start of the month.
But Ten Hag’s side are now unbeaten in eight games in all competitions since and sit fifth in the table, one point behind Newcastle.
October has also been a productive month for former United boss David Moyes’ West Ham, but they were made to pay for a passive first-half display and were thwarted by the hosts’ stubborn defence when chasing the game in the second period.
United began tentatively after Ten Hag made four changes from the side which started in Thursday night’s 3-0 Europa League win against Sheriff.
Harry Maguire made his first league start since August and Ronaldo also started as Brazil winger Antony missed out through injury.
West Ham reverted to their league line-up after their midweek Europa Conference exploits, recalling the likes of Declan Rice, Jarrod Bowen and Tomas Soucek.
The Hammers were content to contain during the opening exchanges and it was not until the 15th minute that United troubled visiting goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski.
Ronaldo’s 25-yard shot lifted the home crowd, but was comfortably held, and then Rashford had two efforts on target in quick succession, which Fabianski was equal to.
United gathered further momentum before the interval as Rice cut out Luke Shaw’s cutback and they were worthy of their breakthrough.
Christian Eriksen combined with Bruno Fernandes and the Dane clipped in a superb curling cross which was met by Rashford’s thumping header.
It was Rashford’s fourth league goal of the season and seventh in all competitions.
West Ham showed more urgency after the restart, with Said Benrahma continuing to pose problems, and Gianluca Scamacca’s first-time effort was blocked by the impressive Lisandro Martinez.
Scamacca, who escaped a second yellow card for a high foot on Martinez, was replaced by Michail Antonio but Ronaldo looked more likely to add to the scoring.
The Portuguese headed wide, pulled a dipping shot the wrong side of the opposite post and saw another effort deflected for a corner.
West Ham continued to commit more men forward though. Soucek fired off target and Benrahma fired straight at David De Gea from 25 yards.
Maguire and Dalot stood firm with a series of decisive clearing headers as the Hammers surged forward and Antonio’s stinging drive was brilliantly saved by De Gea, who also parried Kurt Zouma’s header.
United hit a post through substitute Fred’s header in the closing stages, but they were also indebted to Maguire’s block on Bowen’s close-range effort and another De Gea save from Declan Rice’s shot as they held on.