Swansea 1-4 Manchester United: Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Robin van Persie

Michael Steele

Manchester United got off to a sluggish start against Swansea City. Then they gave the ball to Robin van Persie.

United got off to a slow start against Swansea City, with the Reds struggling to play out of defence as the Swans pressed high up the pitch and with intent, although it was United who had the first real chances. Some poor passing, with Phil Jones particularly culpable, from United failed to lead to any clear opportunities for the hosts, and United soon began to find ways into the game.

A free-kick from the left first fell to Phil Jones in the right channel, who met it with an instinctive volley which Michel Vorm clawed over. Shortly afterwards, some poor positioning from the home defence saw Ryan Giggs released through the centre, but the veteran lacked the pace to get clear and his attempted pass to Danny Welbeck saw Ashley Williams recover to snuff out the danger.

United now had their tails up, and Welbeck came close as he found space outside the area and forced Vorm into another save, with Giggs unable to find the net from the rebound. In a game that was feisty and end-to-end, Swansea then had the ball in the net via Michu, although the goal was correctly called offside after Nathan Dyer had made his run too early in setting up the chance.

The game was becoming increasingly frantic, and David de Gea was called to make a decent save from Michu when the Spanish goal machine spun and fired in a fierce shot at United's near post. Yet just as the game began to open up, United struck with a devastating double blow which ultimately secured the game.

The source of the first was typical - United needed a goal, and the attentions of the Swansea defence meant it would need to be one of quality. Step forward Robin van Persie - the Dutchman collected Ryan Giggs' lofted pass, popping it into the air with his chest before meeting it with an acrobatic right-footed volley to send United ahead. And before Swansea could even consider a response, they found their deficit doubled, Patrice Evra's cross being calmly controlled into the path of the lurking Welbeck, who made no mistake from point-blank range.

United smothered the rest of the half as Swansea were left reeling, and promisingly, the Red Devils did not show any of the lacklustre euthanising of games that they have done in recent years. Swansea struggled to put United under any real pressure after the half-time whistle, with Van Persie having the best opportunity, blazing the ball across goal with a left-footed volley.

Wayne Rooney's introduction was met with a mixed reaction from the visiting fans, and the troubled striker almost aided his team's cause immediately, winning a corner from which Evra saw a header cleared off the line by Jose Canas. With the game picking up again, Angel Rangel came close with a volley with the outside of his foot which whistled past De Gea's top corner, yet once again it was United who took advantage of the open passage of play - Van Persie again, bearing down upon a retreating Swansea backline, ignored the runs to left and right of Welbeck and Rooney respectively, smashing a superb strike into the top corner from outside the area that left Michel Vorm without a prayer.

Yet Swansea were soon to be on the scoresheet themselves, Welbeck guilty of some lax play which allowed Pablo Hernandez to steal in and tee up Wilfried Bony, the Ivorian bagging a debut goal from inside the area after getting on the end of the Spaniard's cross.

United appeared to be content to see out the rest of the match, but Welbeck popped up at the end of the game to match his teammates tally for the game, collecting Rooney's through-ball and pulling off an exquisite finish, chipping Vorm from an angle and getting his technique perfect, the ball landing squarely in the far post to round off an impressive victory.

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