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Robin van Persie and Danny Welbeck gave David Moyes the perfect start to Manchester United's defence of their Barclays Premier League title with a 4-1 win at Swansea City.
Two goals late in the first half put United in complete control, and when van Persie added a third – his second of the game – in the 72nd minute a comfortable victory looked on the cards. Wilfried Bony got one back for the hosts before Welbeck added his second in injury time.
Dutchman Van Persie opened the scoring with a sweetly struck volley before completing his brace with a solo effort from the edge of the penalty area. In-between his two strikes, Welbeck scored from close range after good work from Antonio Valencia. Bony - Swansea's record signing - got a consolation in the closing minutes with a cool finish but any hope of a comeback was ended by Welbeck's perfectly executed chip over Michel Vorm.
Following his performance for England against Scotland on Wednesday, Moyes named Wayne Rooney on the bench. The United manager instead preferred to use Van Persie as a lone striker, with Ryan Giggs and Welbeck providing support. Swansea manager Michael Laudrup gave a debut to Jose Canas, although Bony had to settle for a place among the substitutes.
The better of the early chances fell to the visitors - Phil Jones having an early volley tipped over the crossbar by Vorm while Giggs wasted two good opportunities with a rare lack of composure.
But United’s early dominance was turned into goals just after the half hour with two in as many minutes. First, Van Persie broke the deadlock with a piece of excellent opportunism. The Dutchman controlled a ball from Giggs on his chest, swivelled and emphatically volleyed the ball past Vorm. And a few moments later, Welbeck doubled their lead, the striker tapping home from a Valencia cross after the Swansea defence had failed to clear Patrice Evra’s dangerous cross.
With his side chasing the game, Laudrup introduced Ivory Coast striker Bony and Pablo Hernandez at the start of the second half, and slowly Swansea worked their way back into the game. Their clearest sight of goal came just before the hour when a loose ball fell to Canas on the edge of the penalty area, but his long-range effort sailed harmlessly over the crossbar.
United, having introduced Rooney, extended their lead with 18 minutes to play as Van Persie grabbed his second of the match. The Swansea defence backed off as the Dutchman bore down on goal, before he jinked away from a Chico Flores tackle and fired the ball beyond Vorm's outstretched dive into the top corner.
Bony capped his Premier League debut with a goal, the Ivorian stroking the ball home first time from inside the penalty area after excellent work from Hernandez, but his strike with eight minutes to play ultimately mattered little. Welbeck added his second in the final minute of injury time, the striker calmly lifting the ball over Vorm from a tight angle despite close attention from Flores, to seal the win for United.
Swansea manager Michael Laudrup: "Our plan was to put them under pressure," he said. "We knew it would be a long game and it worked well for the first half hour as they only had one shot on target. But then you see that difference – and the first goal was a great finish. But to concede two goals in two minutes against a team like Manchester United makes it very difficult after that.
"We created some chances after that but the third goal meant it was game over. The main difference was the finishing, and losing the two goals like we did was a huge blow.
"It’s always difficult to play the big teams, but I would rather play them at the start of the season. There is always that doubt, but the difference in today’s game was the finishing.
"I said to the players that we just have to move on. We are playing for different things within this league and its not against teams like Manchester Untied that we need to see where we are. We now look ahead to Thursday’s game in the Europa League and get back on track."
Manchester United manager David Moyes (to MUTV): "You always want to win your [first] game - when you're manager of Manchester United your job is to win the games. I was made well aware of it. The players have done it today and did really well.
"Swansea had a lot of the ball, anybody who comes here will be made to work really hard. We had to work hard as we had periods where we didn't have a great deal of the ball. We limited them to very few opportunities and we made incisive, telling passes and got in for opportunities.
"More importantly, they were really good finishes by the forward players and a brilliantly taken first goal by Robin [van Persie]. We could have played better at times in the game overall, but are more than happy winning here 4-1. In the dressing room, it's quiet as they tell me it's what they do here. Move on to the next game and that's what I'm going to do as well."
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