Valencia and Welbeck strike to stop the rot for Moyes

Manchester United 2 Swansea 0

You could sense it all around you at Old Trafford. The roar at the end was barely a celebration. It was more a collective cry of relief. Normal service had been resumed and David Moyes would be spared further inquisition — for now.

For Manchester United had avoided the ignominy of a fourth successive defeat and a third at Old Trafford. They had  collected three points. And just as importantly, they had rediscovered some of swagger and attacking ambition that is synonymous with this club.

Before the critics are called off prematurely, it should be recorded that this was done against Swansea, who have now won one game in nine — that game, of course being their famous first ever victory at Old Trafford last weekend. And that, though United finished well, they laboured to get through the gears.

 

Doubled: Danny Welbeck celebrates after scoring United's second just before the hour
Doubled: Danny Welbeck celebrates after scoring United’s second just before the hour 

Relief: Valencia slots home from close-range after Kagawa's square header
Relief: Valencia slots home from close-range after Kagawa’s square header

 

Match facts

Man Utd: De Gea 6; Rafael 7, Smalling 6, Vidic 6, Evra 7 (Buttner 79, 6); Fletcher 6, Carrick 6; Valencia 7, Januzaj 8, Kagawa 7; Welbeck 6 (Hernandez 86).

Subs: Giggs, Lindegaard, Cleverley, Zaha, Lingard.

Scorers: Valencia 47, Welbeck 59

Swansea: Tremmel 5; Rangel 5, Amat 6, Williams 7, Davies 6; Britton 7, Canas 6 (Flores 17, 6); Shelvey 6 (Vazquez 63, 6), Pozuelo 5, Routledge 6; Bony 6.

Subs: Taylor, Cornell, Richards, Lucas, Donnelly.

Booked: Rangel, Bony

Referee: Chris Foy 7

Man of the match: Adnan Januzaj

David Moyes – 7

Michael Laudrup – 5 

 

Still, manager Moyes will take heart from a second-half performance in which United look reinvigorated, none more so than Shinji Kagawa, at the heart of the revival. He was ably supported by Adnan Januzaj and Antonia Valencia and, by the end, United were well worth their 2-0 win.

Now they just have to show more of the same at Chelsea next weekend; then will we truly believe that Moyes has re-energised his team.

United started well enough and looked bright initially, for with Januzaj in the team there is always hope.

The worry would be that so much hope at such a major club is invested in an 18-year-old. Of course, when Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie are back, the pressure will ease. But it seems a disproportionate burden for a teenager to bear.

Still, for now, he is the best United have got. It was Januzaj’s free-kick that created the first opening, the clearance dropping for Nemanja Vidic, who scooped a shot over from 10 yards out.

More thrilling was the sight of Januzaj lining up a free-kick from 30 yards out on 11 minutes. The teenager struck it sweetly enough and it seemed to have the beating of Gerhard Tremmel in the Swansea goal but it crashed off the crossbar.

Challenge: Swansea's Jordi Amat fouls Danny Welbeck on the edge of the box in the first-half
Challenge: Swansea’s Jordi Amat fouls Danny Welbeck on the edge of the box in the first-half
Thwarted: Shinji Kagawa missed a glorious chance to bag a third goal in the closing moments
Thwarted: Shinji Kagawa missed a glorious chance to bag a third goal in the closing moments 

But all too quickly United faded. It is not that they looked uncomfortable. There were periods where Swansea out-passed them but the only openings for the visitors were a cut-back from Leon Britton early on that caused a small consternation in the United defence and a tame Jonjo Shelvey shot that he pulled wide.

Of more concern to Moyes was the lack of energy, pace and verve from United. There was a brief respite from the tepid nature of the game on 37 minutes when Valencia and Rafael exchanged passes and subjected Swansea’s defence to some speed of movement.

Rafael crossed well for Danny Welbeck but, from eight yards out, the England striker pulled his shot wide. It was a poor finish, even under pressure.

 

Gaping: Chris Smalling of Manchester United hangs of the crossbar after missing a sitter in the second-half
Gaping: Chris Smalling of Manchester United hangs of the crossbar after missing a sitter in the second-half

 

Down and out: Jordi Amat (left) and Chico Flores look dejected after conceding the second goal
Down and out: Jordi Amat (left) and Chico Flores look dejected after conceding the second goal

But such flurries were few and far between. There was a Patrice Evra shot on 28 minutes that was easily saved by Tremmel and a Darren Fletcher strike on 35 minutes that went over the bar from the edge of the box. But much of what United produced was insipid and uninspiring.

It was, therefore, with some relief that the opening seconds of the second half brought a swift change. From the off, United pressed the ball with more intensity and Januzaj, drifting wide left, was troubling Swansea before delivering an excellent deep cross to the far post.

It was met by Kagawa, whose header was saved by Tremmel, but the ball fell to Valencia, a few yards out, and he duly tapped in to open the scoring.

 

Get up high: Manchester United's Chris Smalling fights for the ball against Wilfried Bony
Get up high: Manchester United’s Chris Smalling fights for the ball against Wilfried Bony 

Swivel: Midfielder Adnan Januzaj turns away from Swansea City's Spaniard Jose Canas
Swivel: Midfielder Adnan Januzaj turns away from Swansea City’s Spaniard Jose Canas

 

Tenterhooks: Despite continued support from the fans, Moyes was under pressure before the game
Tenterhooks: Despite continued support from the fans, Moyes was under pressure before the gameNow, with Kagawa moved to his preferred central position and with Januzaj causing trouble from the left, United looked considerably more threatening.

When Kagawa sprinted through the middle on 51 minutes and lifted a shot just over the bar, the crowd responded in kind. This felt more like the Old Trafford of old due to the attacking verve of the team. Soon they would be in full voice.

From a Tremmel throw out, Valencia was alert to win the ball back, exchange passes with Kagawa and then cross for Welbeck. Though his header was cleared, the renewed sense of urgency from United saw Evra reach the rebound first and strike for goal. Tremmel would surely have saved that shot had it not been for the clever flick from Welbeck, diverting the strike past him.

 

My ball: Wayne Routledge of Swansea City competes with midfielder Antonio Valencia
My ball: Wayne Routledge of Swansea City competes with midfielder Antonio Valencia

 

Under pressure: United manager David Moyes walks out with mascot Fred the Red at Old Trafford
Under pressure: United manager David Moyes walks out with mascot Fred the Red at Old TraffordIt felt as though normal service had been resumed. United were back in familiar stride. Players who had looked lethargic, suddenly were rejuvenated.

When Kagawa lifted the perfect cross into the path of Chris Smalling on 66 minutes, the third goal beckoned. But somehow, from four yards out, he  contrived to lift the ball over the bar rather than into an empty net.

 

 

Source : Daily Mail

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