Barclays Premier League
Manchester United vs. Swansea City
Venue: Old Trafford
Date: Saturday, 2 January 2016
Kick-off: 15:00 GMT
Manchester United ended their miserable run of form by securing a hard-fought 2-1 win against recent bogey side Swansea City.
Losing the last three against the Welsh side, Anthony Martial’s header just after the half-time was cancelled out by a header of their own for the visitors, courtesy of Gylfi Sigurdsson.
Roared on by the Old Trafford faithful, Wayne Rooney converted a Martial cross with a mesmerising flick, as United held on for a relieving three points.
The first half saw few opportunities for both sides, as captain Rooney struck the wall from a free-kick nearly 20 minutes in.
Moments later, he fired off target after collecting Ashley Young’s cross before another Wayne, Wayne Routledge of Swansea, saw an effort saved by David De Gea after the ball sat up nicely for the winger.
Young was becoming heavily involved, with his cross met by the head of Rooney, but he couldn’t produce enough power behind it as it was blocked and dealt with by a stubborn backline.
Mata saw a shot saved by Lukasz Fabianski after Young’s cut back as déjà vu occurred, with Rooney meeting Young’s cross in the air, but it was saved with ease as half-time arrived with the game goalless.
A much livelier second half began with Ashley Williams blocking Rooney’s shot behind for a corner just a minute before the opening goal arrived.
Young, arguably United’s best player on the day, whipped in a superb cross from the right that was headed down by Martial, and the pace of the ball from the bounce took it past the left hand of Fabianski.
Swansea nearly hit back with Andre Ayew’s header striking the post as Spanish full-back Angel Rangel was rightly booked for diving from the rebound.
A one-two link-up play between Martial and Rooney led to the former stabbing a shot wide before the Swans equalised with 20 minutes to go.
Substitute Modou Barrow’s cross was headed home by Sigurdsson to send the travelling support into delirium.
Looking for a swift response, Mata’s free-kick was laid to Rooney, who struck the base of the wall, before United regained the lead less than 10 minutes after conceding.
The bright and busy Martial breezed his way past the challenge before his low left-footed cross was expertly flicked in by Rooney as the ball looked like bypassing him, to make him the Premier League and Manchester United’s outright second highest goalscorer.
That was it for the home side’s chances as De Gea saved from Barrow and Williams before goalkeeper Fabianski, up for a stoppage time corner, headed wide with the last touch of the game.
Having not won since November 21, this feels like a big win for the club, with Rooney’s milestones accompanied by Michael Carrick’s 400th United appearance after coming on as a sub late on.
A run of eight games without a win is ended against a team that had triumphed in four of the last six games between the two, with Louis van Gaal’s side kicking off 2016 in the best possible way.
Up next is the FA Cup, as Old Trafford welcomes Sheffield United next Saturday teatime, with a 5:30pm kick-off time commencing this season’s competition for United.
Manchester United: De Gea; Young (McNair 78), Jones (Darmian 46), Smalling, Blind; Schneiderlin, Schweinsteiger; Mata, Herrera (Carrick 90+1), Martial; Rooney.
Subs: Romero, McNair, Darmian, Carrick, Fellaini, Pereira, Memphis.
Manager: Louis van Gaal
Swansea: Fabianski; Rangel, Fernandez, Williams, Taylor; Britton (Barrow 62), Ki, Cork; Routledge (Montero 81), Sigurdsson, Ayew (Gomis 81).
Subs: Nordfeldt, Naughton, Amat, Grimes, Gomis, Montero, Barrow.
Manager: Alan Curtis