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Adnan Januzaj became the latest Manchester United player to become embroiled in a diving controversy after being cautioned by referee Mike Jones following a stunning goal during a 3-1 victory against West Ham United.

Januzaj, who scored his first Old Trafford goal when putting United 2-0 ahead following Danny Welbeck’s opener, was correctly booked by Jones after attempting to win a free-kick with a dive when challenge by defender James Collins.

With Ashley Young twice being at the centre of alleged diving incidents this season, Januzaj’s booking is likely to prompt a warning from manager David Moyes.

But while Jones called that decision correctly, the Cheshire official allowed West Ham defender George McCartney to escape a seemingly clear red card on 77 minutes when the Northern Irishman caught Javier Hernandez with a dangerous studs-up challenge.

McCartney was only booked for the foul, despite replays showing the full extent of the contact on Hernandez’s ankle.

There have been times this season when it seemed as though United had turned so many corners that they had gone full circle.

Too many victories have been followed by draws or defeats that have denied Moyes’s team the momentum required to challenge the top four.

But after ending their two-game Old Trafford losing streak with an edgy Champions League victory at home to Shakhtar Donetsk earlier this month, United’s form has continued to blossom.

That 1-0 victory over the Ukrainian champions was followed by a 3-0 win at Aston Villa and the 2-0 midweek success against Stoke City, which secured a place in the semi-finals of the Capital One Cup.

As a result, the tension which was tangible during the home defeats against Everton and Newcastle had been banished by the time West Ham arrived, aiming to emerge from Old Trafford with three points for the first time since the final day of the 2006-07 campaign.

United started brightly, clearly buoyed by the confidence of three successive wins, and Tom Cleverley was unfortunate not to open the scoring inside the opening ninety seconds when he was denied by West Ham goalkeeper Adrian.

The Spaniard, making his first Premier League appearance for Sam Allardyce’s team, may have approached this fixture with trepidation, but any nerves would have evaporated with his left-hand save from Cleverley’s powerfully-struck effort at the near post.

West Ham, hovering above the relegation zone having won just three league games this season, were devoid of attacking intent and the home side quickly won the midfield battle, with Phil Jones dominating with his physical presence.

Ravel Morrison, the West Ham midfielder discarded by former United manager Sir Alex Ferguson two years ago, was the one visiting player who looked capable of troubling the hosts.

But the dark side of his character which prompted the end of his time at Old Trafford emerged after just eighteen minutes when he was booked for a spiteful kick at Cleverley in front of referee Mike Jones.

With Morrison causing more trouble for his own team than United, Moyes’s team pressed forward, sensing an opportunity to win and win well.

And after Antonio Valencia forced another save from Adrian with a deflected shot from twelve yards, United took the lead through Welbeck following a slick move involving the England forward and Wayne Rooney.

Welbeck followed his back-heeled flick to Rooney from Cleverley’s free-kick with a darting run into the penalty area and his reward came with Rooney returning the ball to his feet with a first time pass.

Having failed to score at Old Trafford since October 2012, it was by no means a given that Welbeck, whose finishing can be wayward, would take his chance.

But Welbeck displayed the predatory finishing of injured team-mate Robin van Persie by guiding a left-foot strike past Adrian from a narrow angle to claim his third goal in six days.

Rather than defend their lead, United pushed forward in search of a second and they were unfortunate to be denied a penalty when Mark Noble shoved Januzaj to the ground with a forceful arm into the youngster’s ribs.

It was a debatable decision, but Januzaj spared referee Jones from post-match scrutiny by doubling United’s lead with a stunning goal less than a minute later.

The Brussels-born winger, who has yet to pledge his international allegiance to any of the numerous countries he is eligible to represent, started the move for the goal with a pass to Welbeck, who returned the ball with a first-time return.

Januzaj then ghosted defender James Collins and cut inside before curling a right foot shot beyond the helpless Adrian.

But then came the incident which took the shine off his performance, when he was booked by Jones for diving shortly before half-time. There was clearly no contact from Collins and Januzaj was deservedly cautioned.

Januzaj was subsequently replaced by Young midway through the second-half and the England winger, who has been troubled by his own diving incidents this season, displayed the positive part of his game when he scored United’s third with a curling strike from Rooney’s pass on 72 minutes.

Substitute Carlton Cole reduced the arrears for West Ham with a goal on 82 minutes, but United were well over the line by that stage.

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