Braces from Robin van Persie and Daniel Welbeck helped Manchester United go top of the nascent Premier League with an impressive 4-1 win at Swansea City, with one of van Persie's goals likely to be as good as anything we see this year.
Two goals in quick succession towards the end of the first half gave the visitors a commanding 2-0 lead, Van Persie hooking in a clever finish and Welbeck tapping in from close range after a low cross by Antonio Valencia.
Swansea had dominated possession until that point, although they had gone off the boil before those goals. Michael Laudrup responded with the half-time introduction of new signing Wilfried Bony, who had been left on the bench due to jet-lag.
Swansea improved with his power and pace but, with Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic solid at the back, there was no way through.
Van Persie added his second and United’s third with a fantastic goal that is, almost amazingly, a contender for goal of the season: the Dutchman fired into the roof of the net after dummy runs from substitute Wayne Rooney and Welbeck.
Bony netted a late consolation on his Premier League debut with the score 3-0, but United were never going to be denied as Welbeck completed the rout with a fabulous deft chip over the keeper from Rooney’s pass.
PRE-MATCH: Stars on the bench – Both sides dropped their big-name strikers, with Swansea’s Bony and United’s Rooney out for different reasons, the former jet-lagged and the latter simply out of favour. Both had an impact as subs, Bony scoring and Rooney grabbing two assists.
34’ – GOAL: Van Persie is played onside by Angel Rangel, takes a high ball on his chest and – despite the touch not favouring a finish – manages to contort his body and execute a brilliant volley.
36’ – GOAL: After Van Persie causes problems with a clever run, the ball drops to Valencia on the right, whose low cross is tapped in by Welbeck. Scrappy, but 2-0. Swansea shell-shocked.
72’ – GOAL: A magical finish by Van Persie, who wraps his left boot around the ball from the edge of the box, swerving it into the roof of the net. Bonus points to Rooney and Welbeck for dragging the defence all over the place with smart off-the-ball runs.
82' – GOAL: Bony drills a cool low finish past De Gea after Welbeck and Tom Cleverley dither on the edge of the box. A way back in or consolation?
90+2’ – GOAL: Consolation. Welbeck atones for his earlier error with a superb chipped finish after Rooney’s through-ball.
TALKING POINT: Who needs megabucks signings when you have Van Persie? He is arguably the most accomplished striker of a ball in football, and with a hard-working team and a hard-working manager like Moyes, there is no reason why he cannot fire United to the title again. And props to Welbeck, who doubled his meagre 2012-13 Premier League goal tally in his first match of this season.
Manchester United have never lost a Premier League game after leading by two goals at half-time (130 wins, three draws).
Bony became the first Ivorian to score on his Premier League debut.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Robin van Persie (Manchester United): Gonzalo who? Radamel what? Edinson eh? Van Persie is the best out-and-out striker in the world. Probably.
Swansea: Vorm 6, Rangel 6, Chico 5, Williams 5, Ben Davies 6, Canas 6, Britton 6, Dyer 6, Shelvey 6, Routledge 6, Michu 5; Subs: Bony 7, Hernandez 7, Ki 6
Man Utd: De Gea 7, Jones 6, Ferdinand 7, Vidic 7, Evra 7, Cleverley 6, Carrick 6, Valencia 7, Giggs 6, Welbeck 8, van Persie 9; Subs: Rooney 7, Anderson N/A
THE MATCH IN A TWEET