Angel Di Maria was the star of the show as Manchester United comfortably beat Queens Park Rangers on Sunday afternoon.
There was also impressive performances from Ander Herrera and Daley Blind in midfield, with Marcos Rojo largely untroubled at left back.
United took a 3-0 before half-time, with Di Maria breaking the deadlock in the 24th minute. His excellent delivery from a free kick beat the stranded Rob Green, curling just inside the far post. The Argentine’s impact on the game was not limited to his goal however as his sharp passing quickened the pace of the game, and his excellent running with the ball lead a quick counter-attack that resulted in Ander Herrera adding a second goal.
United’s performance contained a zip and flow that has been largely absent since the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson in 2013. Di Maria was at the heart of that but he was ably assisted by Herrera and Juan Mata.
Both showcased an array of impressive touches, both passed the ball with aplomb, and both scored, finishing their chances clinically. Mata was tipped by many to be dropped from the starting eleven to make space for Radamel Falcao, but playing in behind Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie, he was frequently positively involved in United’s threatening attacks.
Herrera and Daley Blind ensured that QPR’s midfield had little time on the ball. They played a high-tempo pressing game that meant United’s defence did not have much to do for most of the afternoon.
Blind’s performance may go largely unnoticed due to the quality shown further up the pitch, but as well as the pressure he exerted on QPR’s midfield, he covered for defensive lapses and used the ball well in possession. There were no extravagant 40-yard passes, but he consistently ensured United retained possession with solid short passing.
By the time Falcao was introduced with 25 minutes to go United had taken their foot off the gas as the game was clearly won. He produced some decent touches and got into threatening positions, but missed his one chance for a debut goal. Green saved well as the Colombian tried to finish a rebound from a difficult angle.
United will not be getting too carried away by this result. QPR were poor on the day, they failed to exert pressure on United’s midfield and did not create many chances going forward.
Their best opportunity fell to Matt Phillips at 1-0 down. With David De Gea out of his goal, Phillips shot tamely, allowing Jonny Evans to make the block. It was a concerning moment for United as the chance came from a defensive mix-up between the goalkeeper and Rojo. And with Tyler Blackett still looking unconvincing, better sides will pose a threat to United’s shaky defence.
Van Gaal’s incredible array of attacking talent may stop the defensive frailties causing too much damage to United’s ambitions this season, with a chance to add reinforcements in January. The performance against QPR was a marked improvement on those that have gone before it this season, and there is certainly reasons for United fans to be optimistic.
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