Manchester United made it three wins on the spin for the first time in 2014 with a convincing 3-0 defeat of Hull City at a misty Old Trafford.
Chris Smalling and Wayne Rooney handed Louis van Gaal’s men a commanding first-half lead and Robin van Persie answered some of his recent critics with an explosive third to clinch another welcome three points.
The Reds were exceptional and had already seen a penalty appeal for a Curtis Davies handball waved away and Rooney curl wide when Smalling made the breakthrough. Panic ensued at the back for the Tigers from the defender’s header and, when Allan McGregor spooned it straight back to the centre-back, he shot with accuracy. It looked over the line as McGregor carried it backwards and goalline technology swiftly proved this was the case – the first goal United have been awarded in this manner.
Smalling went close to a second when brushing the side-netting and van Persie shot straight at McGregor before the luxury of a second strike on 42 minutes. Ander Herrera, on for the injured Angel Di Maria, sprung forward to win a header that was misjudged by Davies. Van Persie capitalised to tee up Rooney and the skipper expertly bent his shot away from McGregor to double the lead.
Hull were more of an attacking force in the second half, Andrew Robertson forcing David De Gea into belated action after a positive run, and Nikica Jelavic heading over, but United still looked fully capable of inflicting further damage on Steve Bruce’s side.
Van Persie’s diving header from an exquisite pass by the outstanding Michael Carrick produced a brilliant save out of McGregor but the offside flag was raised in any case. The Dutchman was not to be denied though as he rapped a glorious left-foot finish high into the net, proving right to ignore Rooney’s shouts for a pass, after Robertson carelessly gifted possession back to Herrera.
Marouane Fellaini headed off target from an Ashley Young cross before van Persie departed to a huge ovation with Radamel Falcao making his return to action. Although De Gea was extended by a Jelavic header, Smalling threatened again when having an effort cleared off the line by Stephen Quinn.
The Stretford End prepared to greet a Falcao goal in the final minute when Juan Mata unselfishly played the ball back to the substitute but Dawson blocked on the line and made a brave tackle as the Colombian attempted to bundle it over.
Rooney sustained a painful knock in stoppage time on the back of Di Maria’s early injury, but overall Louis van Gaal will be delighted with both the performance and result ahead of another imminent league test, against Stoke City on Tuesday night.
Start of something new!
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