MAN UNITED 3, HULL CITY 0
Manchester United soundly defeated Hull City at Old Trafford to record a third straight Premier League victory for the first time in this calendar year.
Goals from Chris Smalling, Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie enabled the Reds to strengthen their hold on fourth place in the table as they are building momentum heading into December and the busy festive fixture programme.
It was very much a routine victory against a Tigers’ team which offered little and hardly any resistance in a meek surrender as they were swept aside on the occasion of Steve Bruce’s 700th match in management. And still he has to record a win against his former club as a manager.
But it was a win which came at a cost for United as Angel Di Maria limped off early in the game and Rooney hobbled towards the tunnel at the end, two new worries for manager Louis van Gaal who has an injury-ravaged squad.
The Dutchman explained that Di Maria has a hamstring injury which will keep him out f Tuesday’s home game against Stoke City , but Rooney told the manager after the game he will be alright, despite knocks to his knee and calf.
Van Gaal was pleased with the victory and especially the manner of the performance as he said: “It was the first match we have dominated from the first minute to the last minute in a way I liked.
“We didn’t give the ball away unnecessarily and it was an improvement on the match at Arsenal. I am pleased with the performance and pleased with the result. We had great moments, great creative moments.”
Bruce admitted his side were architects of their own downfall saying: “It was a difficult afternoon after making the number of mistakes we did.
“You cannot mistakes in the Premier League like the ones we did as we gifted goals to them. To say it was a difficult afternoon was an understatement.
United made three changes from the side which won at Arsenal as Luke Shaw was ruled out through injury while Patrick McNair and Tyler Blackett dropped down to the bench. There were recalls for the fit-again Marcos Rojo in defence, Ashley Young and Juan Mata.
There was a penalty shout in the opening minute as United claimed handball against Curtis Davies and not long after Rooney fired just wide as they made a bright start.
But there was an early setback when Angel Di Maria limped off with a hamstring injury to be replaced by Ander Herrera.
United made the breakthrough in the 16th minute with the aid of goalline technology as keeper Allan McGregor clawed out Smalling’s header, but only after it had entered the net. It was his third Premier League goal and two of them have been scored against the Tigers.
And United doubled their advantage three minutes before the break when Rooney fired home from 25 yards after van Persie had headed a Herrera long ball into his path.
It was Rooney’s eighth goal in his last nine appearances for club and country, but only his fifth of the season for Reds.
McGregor pulled off a brilliant save to turn over Robin van Persie’s diving header, but it counted for nothing as the Dutchman was offside.
United added a third goal midway through the second period when Herrera played a short pass to van Persie who found the top corner with the sweetest of strikes from just outside the box. It was only his fourth goal of the season for the Reds.
United keeper David De Gea was finally called into action with 15 minutes to go saving well to keep out a header from Nikica Jelavic.
Smalling was denied a second goal as Hull substitute Stephen Quinn cleared his header off the line before substitute Radamel Falcao was unlucky not to add a fourth goal in the dying seconds when his close-range shot was blocked by Michael Dawson with McGregor out of position.