Manchester United ended its winless start to the Premier League season in emphatic fashion on Sunday, beating Queens Park Rangers 4-0 to show just what a summer spending spree of 150 million pounds ($250 million) can deliver.
Angel Di Maria and Ander Herrera scored their first goals for United, Wayne Rooney and Juan Mata added others and Radamel Falcao had a 23-minute run-out as a substitute for his debut.
In his fifth competitive match in charge of United, Louis van Gaal finally was able to enjoy a victory that lifted the team to five points from four league matches.
Van Gaal ditched his 3-5-2 formation and reverted to a 4-4-2, with Di Maria particularly impressing on the left of a midfield diamond and inspiring United to a 3-0 halftime lead.
Marcos Rojo, playing at left back, and Daley Blind, deployed as a holding midfielder, made their debuts from the start in a new-look United team that seemed to have a better shape – albeit in the face of weak opposition.
With the goals flying in and the home crowd in full voice, it was like the old times again at Old Trafford. “We’re gonna win the league,” was the chant after Rooney made it 3-0 and all that was missing was a debut goal for Falcao, whose season-long loan move from Monaco is costing a reported $25 million in salary and fee.
That almost came with seven minutes left, but his close-range shot was blocked.
But United likely would have put away QPR even without its recent spree in the transfer market, with Van Gaal attempting to build a team that can regain its status in the Champions League.
A visiting defense that included Rio Ferdinand, who left United in May after 12 years, fell apart after Di Maria’s 24th-minute goal in the face of wave after wave of attacks. Ferdinand received a warm ovation during the warmup and a memento from United great Bobby Charlton before kickoff, but this was not an afternoon the center back will remember fondly.
Many, though, will see this as the true start of the Van Gaal era – and at the heart of an encouraging team display was Di Maria.
The Argentina winger crucially broke the deadlock when his free kick evaded everyone in a crowded area and bounced into the far corner, leaving goalkeeper Rob Green rooted to the spot.
And from one of Di Maria’s many surges forward, Herrera ended up making it 2-0 in the 36th. Rooney collected a pass from Di Maria, had a shot blocked and laid the ball off for Herrera to drive a bobbling effort into the corner.
After Rooney shot home low from the edge of the area for the third goal in the 44th, Di Maria was the architect of the fourth just before the hour, with his driven shot arriving at the feet of Mata to allow the Spain playmaker time to lift a finish high into the net.
As Mata was scoring, United’s fans were giving Falcao a standing ovation as he trotted out of the dug-out to loosen up. Within eight minutes, the Colombia striker was on the pitch.
Falcao almost scored, too, pouncing on a parried save from Green off Blind’s low drive but seeing his first-time shot saved by the goalkeeper.
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