Sir Alex Ferguson was in buoyant mood after his side's comeback win at Upton Park.

22695 - We played like champions - Ferguson

Ferguson said: "We played like champions today, we kept our heads up and didn't lose faith in our ability. It's never easy coming here. They are fighting relegation but we had to do our thing. We dominated that second half and it was a real championship performance.

"It was eventful. Being two goals down was a travesty in terms of possession and chances created. We were under the cosh so I felt we had to go for it. We needed to get something from it.''

Victory put United eight points ahead of Arsenal before the Gunners' evening kick-off against Blackburn but Ferguson added: "Arsenal have a game in hand. It could go to goal difference but I somehow don't think so.''

The Old Trafford manager insisted Nemanja Vidic's tackle on Carlton Cole which resulted in West Ham's second penalty was outside the box although he conceded the Serb could have been sent off later when he fouled Demba Ba.

"He could have been sent off for the free-kick outside the box and maybe got a lucky break,'' he said. "It would have been harsh but he could have been sent off.''

Wayne Rooney praised United's substitutes.

"(Dimitar) Berbatov was fantastic for us holding up the ball and making things happen,'' Rooney told Sky Sports 2. "The substitutions were good substitutions and they won us the game.''

Ryan Giggs found himself in the unfamiliar position on left-back for the second half, but he was certain the game was not beyond the team.

"In the first half we played some good stuff and gave silly goals away,'' he said. "We felt that if we kept going and got a goal we knew we could do it. We dont give up, no matter what the score.

"We were brilliant all over the park but even when he haven't been playing well we have been grinding out results.''

With Ferguson banned from the touchline the first chance he got to talk to his players came at half-time, but even at 2-0 Giggs insisted the United boss was not angry with the team.

"He was calm because we were playing well,'' said Giggs. "We just got into some good areas and the final ball wasn't good enough, we knew the goals would come.''

Rooney acknowledged that visiting Upton Park always leads to a hard game and knew how vital his free-kick was in the victory.

"It is a difficult place to come, the next goal [at 2-0] was the most important one and we managed to control the game after that,'' he said.

West Ham boss Avram Grant was clearly deflated after the game, although he insisted his side could bounce back.

On what effect the nature of the defeat will have on morale, Grant said: "It will not damage it. We are a strong team and we have showed we can recover well. We are disappointed. It was 2-0, we played well and then they scored.''

The result saw the Hammers slide back into the relegation zone, although Grant would not read too much into the loss.

"We had a big job before. We can get over this,'' he added. "We came strong, we were very good in the first half and it is more disappointing.''

The Israeli refused to be drawn on whether Vidic should have been sent off or whether the foul which led to the Hammers' second penalty was outside the area.