Hammer blow for United as holders go out

Holders Manchester United were knocked out of the English League Cup after the Premier League leaders suffered a shock 4-0 loss away to bottom-of-the-table West Ham at a snowy Upton Park on Tuesday.

United, who’ve won the trophy for the past two seasons, found themselves 2-0 down behind before half-time after Jonathan Spector, a former Old Trafford trainee, struck twice.

And another double, from England striker Carlton Cole midway through the second-half, sealed victory for the Hammers.

In Tuesday’s other quarterfinal, also an all top-flight clash, Arsenal beat Wigan 2-0 across London at the Emirates Stadium thanks to an Antolin Alcaraz own-goal and a second-half effort from forward Nicklas Bendtner.

United States defender Spector had never scored before during his six seasons in English football, yet before 40 minutes were on the clock he’d netted twice against the holders, who came into this match on the back of a 7-1 league thrashing of Blackburn Rovers.

Sir Alex Ferguson, the United manager, made 10 changes to the side that beat Rovers, with only Anderson remaining.

Ferguson, while unrepentant over his decision to field a youthful side, told Sky Sports: “We made a few errors on the goals and really you can’t give away goals like that, even though they are young.

“Today [Tuesday], West Ham approached it more like a cup tie, got stuck in and a lot of late challenges, things like that. It got the crowd up for them, but the error of the game was about the goals we gave away anyway.”

Under pressure West Ham boss Avram Grant, asked if this result combined with last weekend’s 3-1 league win over Wigan marked a turning point for the east London side, said: “I hope so but we have been continuing our process of developing our quality football.

“It’s a new team with many new players and each game we are better. I hope to continue winning,” the Israeli added.—AFP

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