Manchester United return to winning ways against struggling Swansea
My Team, Manchester United have returned to winning ways in the Premier League courtesy of a 3-1 victory over struggling Swansea City at the Liberty Stadium.
Paul Pogba broke the deadlock for the visitors before a brace from Zlatan Ibrahimovic sent them into the halfway stage with a deservedly convincing lead, and they held out despite a Mike van der Hoorn consolation to condemn Swansea to a 10th straight Premier League match without a win.
Jose Mourinho made six changes to the side beaten by Fenerbahce in midweek, but the manager was forced to watch on from the stands as he served his one-match touchline ban after being sent off against Burnley last weekend.
It was one of the five to keep their place that almost gave United a lead after less than two minutes when Wayne Rooney – now just two goals short of Sir Bobby Charlton’s all-time record for the club – curled an early effort narrowly past the far post.
The visitors went into the match looking to avoid going four Premier League games without scoring for the first time ever, and it was Pogba who ended their 306-minute drought in some style as he drilled a sweetly-struck volley into the top corner from 25 yards.
Swansea’s increasingly passive display soon made it evident that there were more goals in the game for United, and Marouane Fellaini almost made it two in as many minutes when he hooked Matteo Darmian’s delivery past the far post.
Ibrahimovic’s recent troubles in front of goal had served as the perfect microcosm for the team’s lack of cutting edge over the last few weeks, but he too ended his individual drought to double United’s advantage after 21 minutes, working space to shoot on the edge of the box before squeezing his finish past Lukasz Fabianski.
It was the Swede’s first league goal in his last six outings and also saw him write his name into the Premier League record books with the 25,000th goal in the division’s history.
Ibrahimovic would have been fancying a flood of goals to follow the drought when he doubled his personal tally shortly after the half-hour mark, exchanging passes with Rooney before bundling through three white shirts and lashing his finish beyond the keeper.
The goal brought up another landmark as Ibrahimovic reached 400 career goals at club level, while it was also Rooney’s 100th Premier League assist, making him only the third player to reach that milestone after Ryan Giggs and Frank Lampard.
That goal seemingly killed the game off as a contest, and United coasted to the halfway stage looking certain to win just their second game in their last eight league outings.
Bob Bradley made two changes at half time to try to breathe life into his side following an abject first-half display, but United once again had things all their own way in the opening exchanges.
Chances for the visitors dried up, though, and Swansea finally began to show some resistance after the hour mark, with Jefferson Montero and Angel Rangel skewing the team’s first shots of the match wide in quick succession.
Only Hull City had scored fewer Premier League goals than the Swans at the start of the day, but they did manage to pull one back with just over 20 minutes remaining when Van der Hoorn escaped his marker in the area to nod Gylfi Sigurdsson’s free kick into the bottom corner.
Suddenly the atmosphere inside the stadium changed as the fans, who had earlier been voicing their displeasure at the new owners, roared their team on to get a second, but it was United who had the next chance when Juan Mata steered Rooney’s cutback narrowly past the post.
The hosts did almost set up a grandstand finish with seven minutes remaining when Montero’s cross found Modou Barrow at the back post, but the winger could not get enough on his volley and David de Gea got down to make the save at his near post.
Ultimately, though, the Swans left themselves with too much to do in the second half, and boos rained down from the fans at the final whistle as the hosts remain joint bottom of the table with just five points from 11 games – their worst ever start to a Premier League season.
It is now 10 league games without a win since the opening day of the season for Swansea and just one point from a possible 12 in charge for Bradley ahead of their meeting with Everton after the international break.
United, meanwhile, avoid making their worst start to a Premier League campaign courtesy of the victory, climbing up to sixth in the table with their first away league win since August.