After a tight and scrappy first hour, Manchester United turned up the heat and the attacking intent in the second half to secure a 2-0 win over Queens Park Rangers, thanks to substitutes Marouane Fellaini and James Wilson.
On a testing surface against committed opposition, the game had lacked finesse and clinical finishing – on another day Radamel Falcao could have had a hat-trick at least – but on the back of defeat to Southampton and three league matches without a win for the Reds, Louis van Gaal will be happy to be back to winning ways.
Robin van Persie’s ankle injury afforded a return to action for Falcao, who scored two in four league games over Christmas but lost his place for the 1-0 defeat to Southampton. A late team-sheet alteration saw Jonny Evans replace Chris Smalling, one of three changes to the team defeated by the Saints, with Marcos Rojo in for Luke Shaw for his first appearance since 8 December.
QPR are languishing in the relegation zone largely due to 10 defeats in 10 away games, but their form at Loftus Road is impressive: W5, D4 L2. And their high pressing on a bobbly pitch highlighted a fierce intent to cling onto that record.
United took control of possession early on and after 13 minutes Falcao could have put the Reds in front when he brought down Juan Mata’s excellent lofted pass and hit his shot goalwards. But it was straight at Rob Green, who also blocked the Colombian’s second attempt from a tight angle.
QPR hounded the Reds on the ball, occasionally forcing stray passes or, as was the case on 20 minutes, Bobby Zamora intercepted play and fed a pass to Charlie Austin, who forced a good save from De Gea. The United keeper again denied Austin on 31 minutes with an even better acrobatic stop […]