By Andrew Embling
- Martial and Rooney seal three crucial points for United
- Van Gaal finally tastes victory against Swansea
The New Year started with a precious three points for Manchester United, but it was a performance with little fizz as United once again looked flat and uninspiring.
Second half goals from Anthony Martial and Wayne Rooney gave United a 2-1 win against Swansea, but it was far from easy.
United almost started with a bang as big as the fireworks at midnight as Ander Herrera got inside the box within 30 seconds only to see his effort blocked.
The home side looked lovely early on, playing with a good tempo as they dominated the initial stages. But Swansea slowly built their way into the game, shackling United’s attacking threat.
Rooney had a chance to end his goal drought after 20 minutes, but found the side netting as he tried to beat Fabianski at his near post as United once again struggled to get their attacking options to click into gear.
Swansea were growing in confidence as United failed to create anything of note, Routledge bringing the first save of note out of David De Gea with just after 30 minutes on the clock.
The visitors claimed handball against Schneiderlin as it hit the United man as he stretched to clear, whilst Sigurdsson had his follow up effort blocked.
Mata shot straight at Fabianski as they took a quick free kick from just outside the box that almost took advantage of a sleeping Swansea defence, but it was the Swans who looked the most threatening towards half time as Ki shot wide of the near post as he cut inside.
United just couldn’t find the cutting edge they so desperately needed, Rooney doing well to get on to the end of Young’s cross only to see his downward header blocked by the men in white.
Ashley Young was looking dangerous as he overlapped down the right, the United man cutting the ball back to Mata inside the area which brought about a smart save by Fabianski at his near post.
Young was at it again as he curled in another excellent cross to Rooney, but the United skipper saw Fabianski make a comfortable save from his header.
Rooney almost caught Swansea cold at the start of the second half only to see his effort blocked after a smart turn on the edge of the area.
But United weren’t to be denied and it was Young once again who provided the cross from the right which Martial headed powerfully past Fabianski to break the deadlock.
United suddenly looked full of confidence, knocking the ball around and starting to get midfield runners into the box.
Rooney shook off a challenge to swivel and turn, his shot failing to test Fabianski, but it was Ashley Young who continued to shine as he gave the Swansea defence plenty of headaches.
Young and Rooney combined to tee Hererra up at the edge of the area, but he shot well over.
But Swansea came within a lick of paint of levelling up against the run of play as Ayew headed against the post, Rangel booked for diving as he flung himself to the floor in the aftermath.
The away side were pushing forward and got their reward as Sigurdsson headed in Barrow’s cross to make it 1-1.
United were under the cosh, but Martial showed some magic at the other end and his cross was met by Wayne Rooney, who back heeled into the net for his 238th goal for United to take him past Denis Law in United’s all time goalscorer list.
Swansea kept searching for an equaliser, De Gea making a fine save to deny Williams in injury time.
Fabianski was up for the final corner of the match and headed just off target as United put their run of poor form behind them to take the spoils for the first time in nine games.
Manchester United: De Gea, Young (McNair 79), Jones (Darmian 46), Smalling, Blind, Schneiderlin, Schweinsteiger, Mata, Herrera (Carrick 90+1), Martial, Rooney Substitutes: Romero, Pereira, Fellaini, Memphis