United moved level on points with Manchester City at the top of the table but the fact that goal difference remains hugely in the Blues’ favour means the title is very much out of the champions’ hands.
After City won 2-0 at Newcastle earlier in the day, it was credit to the Reds that victory over dogged Swansea was at least secured to take the race for the trophy to the final game with United at Sunderland while City host Mark Hughes’ QPR.
After an understandably subdued opening spell, following events on Tyneside, Nathan Dyer had the first noteworthy attempt with a drive that was watched over the bar by David De Gea. It seemed to spark the Reds into action and Michel Vorm had to make a double save to thwart Patrice Evra and Wayne Rooney.
Six minutes later came the breakthrough to lift Old Trafford. Antonio Valencia had barely been involved when he was fed on the right by Phil Jones and beat his marker Neil Taylor with ease. Michael Carrick’s measured shot from the cut-back was expertly backheeled into the net by the evergreen Scholes.
Valencia started to sparkle, allowing Carrick to cross agonisingly close to Javier Hernandez, and the Mexican’s lay-off then led to Young being rashly challenged by Angel Rangel inside the box with Chris Foy rightly only awarding a corner.
Sir Alex’s side started to pose a threat from both flanks as Young’s cross was headed on by Scholes but nodded over from close range by Hernandez and Wayne Rooney drifted an attempt off target after collecting a Hernandez header. Some sloppy play by the Swans gifted Scholes posession in a dangerous position and, although Rooney picked up the veteran’s pass and saw a shot blocked by Rangel, Young was on hand to steer a precise finish into the corner of the net.
Defenders Jones and Chris Smalling also had efforts on goal towards the end of the half as, after being slow to reach top gear, United really started to lift the mood around the ground. But any hopes that the Reds would really go gung-ho in the second half were misplaced as Gylfi Sigurdsson forced David De Gea to shovel his shot uncomfortably behind.
There was a lightning break, instigated by Scholes’ brilliant pass out of defence, but Dyer prevented Rooney’s cross from finding Young and, when the former Villa winger did get an opening soon afterwards, his drive deflected off Ashley Williams to wrongfoot Vorm but went the wrong side of the keeper’s right-hand post.
Hernandez headed over from another promising position following a Valencia cross but Swansea remained a threat as De Gea managed to keep out Danny Graham after the striker helped on a Joe Allen shot. And the two teams continued to trade efforts in an end-to-end affair with Valencia’s shot blocked by Taylor, Dyer firing wide when off balance and De Gea diving to save a Sigurdsson free-kick.
Rooney really should have added a third after Valencia rode a challenge from Allen and found Carrick, whose instant pass deserved a better finish from the Reds’ top scorer, who instead drifted his shot wide. After Rooney was replaced by Dimitar Berbatov, the Bulgarian headed on a Young corner to Hernandez, whose clever spin led to a shot being deflected by Williams and, from the next flag-kick, Jones rose well to force a routine save out of Vorm.
Graham shot straight at De Gea on the break, before Rio Ferdinand limped off with what looked like a groin problem that could mean Sir Alex will be without both the England international and Jonny Evans for the trip to the Stadium of Light. Tom Cleverley had a chance with a couple of minutes left, forcing Vorm into another save, but there was to be no goal avalanche with the champions instead relying on former idol Hughes’ QPR to pull off an almighty shock next Sunday.
Manchester United for life!!
Glory Glory ManUnited
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