Premier League
Man UtdManchester United2SwanseaSwansea City1

Manchester United 2-1 Swansea City

By Mike HensonBBC Sport
Wayne Rooney
Rooney is now clear of Denis Law as Manchester United's second-highest scorer

Wayne Rooney's brilliant instinctive winner beat Swansea as Manchester United ended a run of eight games without a win.

The England striker flicked home Anthony Martial's cross with 13 minutes to go to settle a close contest.

After a dour first half, Martial had headed United in front, before Gylfi Sigurdsson's glancing effort set nerves on edge at Old Trafford.

Manchester United move up to fifth, two points behind Tottenham.

Swansea's raids forward were rare, but they twice came close to a second equaliser in injury time.

First Ashley Williams brought a good save out of David de Gea before goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski headed wide from a corner with almost the last touch of the game.

How the action unfolded at Old Trafford

Listen to 5 live commentary of Wayne Rooney's winner

Win can be start of fantastic 2016 - Van Gaal.

Rooney's touch of class changes mood

Swansea had won all three of their league meetings with Louis van Gaal's Manchester United - including the Dutchman's very first match in charge.

Wayne Rooney scores against Swansea
Rooney's deft flick provided only his third Premier League goal of the season

History seemed dangerously close to being repeated for the home fans when Sigurdsson - the matchwinner in Van Gaal's United debut - steered home Modou Barrow's cross with 20 minutes to go.

Rooney's afternoon up to that point had been full of industry but short on inspiration. However, United's captain improvised brilliantly to flick Martial's cross round his standing leg and into the far corner past a rooted Fabianski for the winner.

As well as delivering three points for his team, the strike gave Rooney sole possession of second place on the all-time goalscoring lists of the Premier League - on 188, 72 behind Alan Shearer - and Manchester United - on 238, 11 behind Sir Bobby Charlton.

Width + crosses = goals

The home fans' relief was palpable on the final whistle as Manchester United secured their first win since beating Watford away on 21 November.

Ashley Young's crosses
Ashley Young's more advanced role meant he was able to make more telling deliveries into the box than against Stoke on Boxing Day (shown right). Red arrows represent unsuccessful crosses, yellow show passes that led to chances, blue are assists

However, the half-time whistle had mostly been greeted with a bemused silence after a toothless first-half performance.

The one consistent source of danger for the hosts was right-winger Ashley Young. His pace and trickery gave Neil Taylor a testing afternoon and his consistently accurate delivery into the box was rewarded when Martial met a cross with a powerful header just after half-time.

The winner also came from the flanks as Martial drifted wide to turn provider for Rooney.

Fabianski almost provides stunning climax

Since losing his first match in charge across the city at Etihad Stadium last month, caretaker boss Alan Curtis had overseen three successive clean sheets to keep Swansea clear of the relegation zone.

And having kept United at bay for large spells in a tight and tidy performance, their discipline was almost rewarded in extraordinary style when Fabianski climbed highest after coming up for the final corner of the match and sent a header just wide.

Man of the match - Ashley Young

Ashley Young
Ashley Young made 10 crosses during his 75 minutes on the pitch - twice the total of any other player

Manager reaction

Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal: "I am very happy for the players because they had to play under big pressure and now we have won. We are still near the top of the league and the gap is less. So that's football.

'Risky' Man Utd please Van Gaal

"That's a season. A season takes eight months or something like that and not one month.

"I think we played a very risky system against Swansea because they had a shape with four midfielders in a diamond.

"I hope this is a fantastic starting point for us in the New Year and we can continue against Sheffield United."

Swansea caretaker boss Alan Curtis: "Funnily enough, Lukasz Fabianski had asked a couple of minutes earlier to go up for a similar situation. I told him to stay back. I wish I'd asked him to go up earlier.

Swans unlucky to lose - Curtis

"We had to get back into the game. We were comfortable with the midfield diamond when it was 0-0, but once we went behind, we had to change things, so we put two wingers on to get back into it.

"We grew into the game after that, and we were unlucky not to get something."

Stats you need to know

  • Rooney ended a run of 553 minutes without a goal for the club.
  • Manchester United have now failed to score in their last nine first halves at Old Trafford. The last player to score a first half goal at Old Trafford in all competitions was Juan Mata v Wolfsburg in September.
  • Gylfi Sigurdsson has scored twice and assisted twice in his last four league games versus Manchester United.

What's next?

Manchester United face Sheffield United in the FA Cup third round on Saturday, before a trip to Newcastle on Tuesday, 12 January in their next league outing. Swansea travel to Oxford in the FA Cup on Sunday, before playing Sunderland in a potentially vital match on the following Wednesday.

Line-ups

Man Utd

  • 1de Gea
  • 18YoungSubstituted forMcNairat 78'minutes
  • 4JonesSubstituted forDarmianat 45'minutes
  • 12SmallingBooked at 42mins
  • 17BlindBooked at 85mins
  • 28Schneiderlin
  • 31Schweinsteiger
  • 8Mata
  • 21HerreraSubstituted forCarrickat 90+1'minutes
  • 9Martial
  • 10Rooney

Substitutes

  • 7Depay
  • 16Carrick
  • 20Romero
  • 27Fellaini
  • 33McNair
  • 36Darmian
  • 44Pereira

Swansea

  • 1Fabianski
  • 22RangelBooked at 64mins
  • 33Fernandez
  • 6Williams
  • 3Taylor
  • 24Cork
  • 7BrittonSubstituted forBarrowat 62'minutes
  • 4Ki Sung-yueng
  • 15RoutledgeSubstituted forMonteroat 82'minutes
  • 10A AyewSubstituted forGomisat 82'minutes
  • 23G Sigurdsson

Substitutes

  • 2Amat
  • 13Nordfeldt
  • 18Gomis
  • 20Montero
  • 21Grimes
  • 26Naughton
  • 58Barrow
Referee:
Jonathan Moss
Attendance:
75,415

Match Stats

Home TeamMan UtdAway TeamSwansea
Possession
Home55%
Away45%
Shots
Home19
Away9
Shots on Target
Home6
Away4
Corners
Home4
Away2
Fouls
Home14
Away10

Live Text

  1. Post update

    Match ends, Manchester United 2, Swansea City 1.

  2. Full Time

    Second Half ends, Manchester United 2, Swansea City 1.

  3. Post update

    Attempt missed. Lukasz Fabianski (Swansea City) header from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the right. Assisted by Gylfi Sigurdsson with a cross following a corner.

  4. Post update

    Corner, Swansea City. Conceded by Chris Smalling.

  5. Post update

    Foul by Matteo Darmian (Manchester United).

  6. Post update

    Jefferson Montero (Swansea City) wins a free kick on the left wing.

  7. Post update

    Corner, Swansea City. Conceded by David de Gea.

  8. Post update

    Attempt saved. Ashley Williams (Swansea City) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal.

  9. Substitution

    Substitution, Manchester United. Michael Carrick replaces Ander Herrera.

  10. Post update

    Matteo Darmian (Manchester United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  11. Post update

    Foul by Jefferson Montero (Swansea City).

  12. Booking

    Daley Blind (Manchester United) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

  13. Post update

    Foul by Daley Blind (Manchester United).

  14. Post update

    Modou Barrow (Swansea City) wins a free kick on the right wing.

  15. Substitution

    Substitution, Swansea City. Bafétimbi Gomis replaces André Ayew.

  16. Substitution

    Substitution, Swansea City. Jefferson Montero replaces Wayne Routledge.

  17. Post update

    Foul by Morgan Schneiderlin (Manchester United).

  18. Post update

    Gylfi Sigurdsson (Swansea City) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  19. Post update

    Attempt saved. Modou Barrow (Swansea City) left footed shot from the right side of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Jack Cork.

  20. Substitution

    Substitution, Manchester United. Patrick McNair replaces Ashley Young.