Manchester United 2-1 Swansea City: Player Ratings
In a topsy-turvy encounter at Old Trafford which marked Manchester United’s first match of the New Year, the Red Devils pipped Swansea City by two goals to one. The much-needed victory helped United record their first win since November and gave a welcome boost to Louis van Gaal’s outfit which has indeed been lacklustre in recent outings.
The Swans from Wales have always been able to beat the Dutchman’s Reds whenever the two sides have met, and this particular win would have exacted some revenge for Van Gaal. Manchester United required the talent of Anthony Martial to go 1-0 up in the second half when the Frenchman headed the ball home thunderously past a diving Lukasz Fabianski.
However, Swansea pulled things back when Iceland midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson guided the ball skillfully past David de Gea with a well-taken header. It was soon time for United skipper Wayne Rooney to show his class as he produced an excellent finish to wrap up the match in the Reds’ favour.
The goal was the Englishman’s 238th for Manchester United which sees him go past the Denis Law and just 11 behind the legend Sir Bobby Charlton, also becoming the all-time second-highest scorer in the League. When Jonathan Moss blew the final whistle Louis van Gaal would have heaved a huge sigh of relief.
The Stretford End finally found its voice again as the Red Devils entertained the 75000-strong crowd to register a thrilling win, which sends United to fifth position in the Barclays Premier League.
David de Gea – 7
The Spaniard was solid as usual in goal for Manchester United. Even though he had nothing of note to do in the first half he did well to keep out Wayne Routledge’s well-struck volley. He could not have prevented the goal scored by Sigurdsson. Towards the end he made a very good save to deny Ashley Williams’ effort which was struck firmly on target.
Phil Jones – 6
It was not the greatest of performances from Phil Jones, as the defender erred tactically at times. He made a few misplaced passes too initially as he found it hard sometimes against a determined Swansea side. He came into the side, replacing Matteo Darmian, but soon it was a reversal of roles as the Italian’s turn to come on for Jones who went off injured.
Chris Smalling – 6.5
Smalling has been a pillar of strength for Van Gaal’s side this season, and he showed it again tonight with a strong display at the back, quelling all the challenges mounted by the Swans. He picked up a yellow card for a foul on Andre Ayew in the 42nd minute. He was consistent, decisive, positionally aware and made very few mistakes.
Daley Blind – 6.5
He started at left-back for United and operated with the usual discipline that we have come to associate with him. He was assured on the ball and hence did not have bad touches. He took great corners from either side and was steadfast in his position. He gave away a needless free kick in the 85th minute by fouling Modou Barrow, for which the Dutchman was cautioned.
Ashley Young – 7.5
One of the most energetic players on display today, Ashley Young exhibited great vigour and boundless spirit throughout his stay on the pitch. He operated at right-back and was a constant distributor of the ball from the right flank. He played with intelligence and threatened the Swansea backline time and again, finally coming up with the assist for Martial’s opener.
Morgan Schneiderlin – 5.5
The Frenchman had a poor game considering his standards, as he sprayed around passes inconsistently. He was found out of position often and lost the ball many a time in the first half. It was a really average performance from the ex-Southampton man as he tried in vain to make a positive impact. His sloppiness allowed Swansea to launch counterattacks.
Bastian Schweinsteiger – 7
The German midfield general was his commanding self today, operating with real purpose for Manchester United. His grit and resolve were there for everyone to see as he looked to kickstart many United attacks from the centre of the field. His involvement was instrumental in the build-up to the first goal scored by United.
Ander Herrera – 6.5
Herrera put in a more-than-decent performance for the Red Devils as the Spaniard found himself in promising positions early on. One of the best chances fell to him when he picked up a pass from Ashley Young, only for him to lash it straight to Fabianski. He was very determined and alert in the midfield.
Juan Mata – 6.5
Mata donned the ‘playmaker’ avatar by being in many good positions and initiating many United attacks with purpose. It was his quick thinking from a free-kick that enabled him to almost score at the half hour mark. He had few shots on target. Mata drifted inside a lot, and what it did was make headway for Young along the right flank.
Anthony Martial – 8.5
He proved to be a constant nuisance for the Swansea defence as he made dozens of meaningful runs into the penalty area, providing extra venom to the United attack. He was successful in being in perfect tandem with Rooney and showed real desire in penetrating the opposition backline.
He opened the scoring with a great header from Young’s cross and went on to assist Rooney for United’s second. It was simply a Man-of-the-Match performance from the French prodigy.
Wayne Rooney – 8
The Manchester United skipper turned in an awe-inspiring performance with his trademark Scholes-like whipped crosses successfully coming off each time he tried them. He linked up brilliantly with Martial many times. He was a real presence in the opposition box and he troubled most of the Swansea defenders. The flicked goal he scored was a true joy to watch.
Matteo Darmian – 6
He replaced the injured Phil Jones at the interval but failed to make a strong impact. As he went on to his favoured right-back position his exploits became better.
Patrick McNair – 6
He replaced Ashley Young who trudged off with a knock. His no-nonsense defending and clearing of the ball away from danger helped his team to come away with the crucial three points.
Michael Carrick – N/A
He came on during injury time and did not have enough time at his disposal to make an impact.
Lukasz Fabianski – 6
The Polish keeper was consistent enough, to his credit. He could not have avoided either of the Manchester United goals in any way. He could have ended the match on a happier note, albeit surprisingly, as his strong header whizzed past the United goal late in injury time.
Neil Taylor – 7.5
It was a great performance from the Welshman who was at his natural best, being strong in defence. If not for his well-made interceptions and tackles, United would have piled on the misery on Swansea. The contest between him and Ashley Young made for terrific viewing.
Ashley Williams – 7
Swansea were well-structured at the back, thanks to Williams’ organization of the defence. He proved to be a brick wall at the heart of the Swans’ defence and he made countless blocks to deny United. His recent form continued as he made tackle after tackle successfully. He combined well with Taylor and was good in communication.
Angel Rangel – 4.5
Probably the worst player on the pitch, Rangel was near-dreadful tonight as he could not manage to countervail United’s attacking prowess in any way. Martial came off better against him almost all the time practically. He picked up a yellow card for simulation when he tried to capitalize on Andre Ayew’s effort which thudded against the United post.
Federico Fernandez – 5
It was not the best of matches for the Argentine defender as he could not cope with the threat being offered by a determined Manchester United. He struggled throughout the match, unable to offer any resistance to the lethal potency of the Red Devils. His sluggishness allowed Martial to ease past him and cross the ball for Rooney to score.
Leon Britton – 6
The Englishman put in a decent performance for the Swans. He was alert and lively, and showed strength on the ball. He was able to consistently break the play well, but could not contribute a lot to the Swansea attack. As a result, he was replaced by Modou Barrow.
Jack Cork – 5.5
He managed to showcase an average performance for the men from Wales. He was near effective in midfield, as he showed glimpses of his true talent. It was he who blocked a Rooney header which was going on target. But as the game wore on his impact diminished a wee bit.
Ki Sung-Yueng – 6
The talented South Korean was not at his spectacular best as he failed to repeat his recent performances against Van Gaal’s Red Devils. He got into good positions and offered himself for passes, but his teammates could not do so, on most occasions, due to the consistent pressing of the United midfield and back four.
Wayne Routledge – 6.5
He offered stiff competition to Daley Blind most of the time and was a real threat while Swansea were counter-attacking. His sheer pace and adventurous intent were on display tonight. But there was a lack of consistency from him, as he failed to create cohesion among the Swans midfield.
Gylfi Sigurdsson – 7.5
His skill and vision came to the fore as he managed to dink a perfect ball to Andre Ayew who could only head it onto the United post. He showed excellent levels of concentration throughout the match. The Iceland playmaker was an embodiment of composure and intensity. His goal which rendered David de Gea clueless was great, and almost salvaged a draw for the Welsh side.
Andre Ayew – 7
He tried hard, but his attempts were only few and far between. Most of the time the man from Ghana proved to be the solitary presence upfront, indulging in quite a few battles with Chris Smalling, out of which one earned a booking to the latter. Soon he placed the ball almost too well as his header certainly managed to beat a sprawling de Gea, but hit the woodwork.
Jefferson Montero – 6
He was introduced in the 82nd minute, replacing Routledge. The man from Ecuador started to be the lynchpin for many late surges into the United box but was unable to achieve anything productive, barring a free kick on the edge of the box. He played with great dedication and purpose.
Modou Barrow – 7
The Swede toiled hard to make the United defenders sweat. It was often with consummate ease that Barrow managed to get past Darmian and then Blind. It was Barrow who crossed for Swansea’s equalizer.
Bafetimbi Gomis – N/A
The Frenchman did not get enough time to make an impression.