SWANSEA CITY 0, MAN UNITED 1
Javier Hernandez may have been Manchester United’s matchwinner at the Liberty Stadium, but their improved form of late has been built on solid foundations.
Since the debacle in the Manchester derby, when neighbours City hit them for six, they have kept five successive clean sheets.
And it is that solidity at the back – central defenders Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic were reunited in South Wales – which has proved pivotal to them remaining second in the Barclays Premier League and ready to strike if leaders City stumble.
There is no denying it was a massive win as United inflicted a first home league defeat of the season on the Swans who were unbeaten on home turf. They could not allow City to extend their lead at the top of the table which remains at five points.
It was a big day for Swansea who were bottom of the fourth tier of English football a decade ago and threatened with losing their League status and also on the verge of extinction such was their perilous financial position.
The reborn Swans, under the tutelage of Brendan Rodgers, has regained their place in the top flight after an absence of 29 years.
Sir Alex Ferguson also paid tribute to them declaring: “They are a good football team, keep the ball well and you have to concentrate all the time.
“The concentration we showed was exactly what we needed because a few weeks ago there was a genuine criticism about our defending and the chances our opponents were getting. Not now, there isn’t.”
United relied on experience with Ferdinand and Vidic restored to the back line while Michael Carrick and Ryan Giggs beefed up the centre of midfield.
The matchwinning goal came in the 11th minute when Giggs seized on an error by Angel Rangel before supplying the cross for Hernandez to glide in to score at the near post.
There was an almighty let off for United midway through the opening half when Wayne Routledge’s deflected cross fell invitingly to Scott Sinclair six yards out with keeper David De Gea stranded.
Sinclair was unable to seize his moment of glory losing his balance, missing his shot and holding his head in his hands in despair.
Rodgers, who thought his side afforded their visitors too much respect, added it was something they addressed at half time.
Indeed, the Swans took the game to United after the restart as the visitors had to display their defensive steel.
De Gea foiled Sinclair while Vidic then came to the rescue with a diving header to deny Gary Monk. Later it was Carrick who had to block a shot from Danny Graham as the hosts pressed for an equaliser.
United were comfortable for the most part, however, and in the latter stages could have triumphed by a wider margin.
Phil Jones made one of his trade mark bursts from defence and struck a post in the 90th minute while in stoppage time Nani fired narrowly wide.