Manchester United enhanced their chances of finishing second in the Premier League as they beat struggling Swansea City 2-0 on Saturday afternoon.
The Swans got off to a nightmare start in the first-half as Romelu Lukaku gave the hosts the lead after just five minutes. United were able to double their lead through Alexis Sánchez in the 20th minute in a first-half that they utterly dominated.
Swansea were much-improved in the second-half and could have got back into the game had David De Dea not superbly kept out two Tammy Abraham efforts in quick succession.
However, United were able to see the game out and secure a comfortable victory.
Lukaku and Sánchez put United in cruise control
Jose Mourinho opted to make five changes to his starting line-up for this match with the most notable alteration being Paul Pobga's return as Scott McTominay dropped to the bench. Sánchez also returned after he was rested in the FA Cup win against Brighton & Hove Albion before the international break.
As for Swansea, Carlos Carvalhal opted to stick with a very similar starting line-up to the one that crashed out of the FA Cup against Tottenham Hotspur last time out. However, one notable change was that Abraham dropped to the bench as Andre Ayew returned.
The hosts made a very bright start to this match and took the lead after just five minutes. Some tricky play in the area from Sánchez caused the Swans’ defence problems before he squared it to Lukaku who rifled home into the top left-hand corner to make it 1-0, with the aid of a deflection off Alfie Mawson.
The 24-year-old striker could very easily have doubled his side’s advantage just minutes later. He was played through on goal by Lingard but his low driven shot was well kept out by Łukas Fabiański.
Lingard was again the architect for United when their second goal eventually came in the 20th minute. A lapse in concentration from the visitors allowed him to play Sanchez in on goal and the Chilean finished emphatically into the bottom left-hand corner to make it 2-0.
Shortly before half-time, Ashley Young did well to keep Lukaku’s cross in-play be heading it back towards Sánchez in the area. However, he was unable to make a proper connection and the chance had gone.
The Swans failed to muster a single opportunity of any note in the first-half but would have been happy to have gone into half-time only two goals behind, which sums up how dominant United were.
United cruise to three points
Carvalhal had to change something at half-time following United’s utter dominance in the first-half and he did. Tom Carroll and Tammy Abraham were introduced in place of Ki Sung-yeung and Nathan Dyer.
However, these changes did not make the desired impact as United continued to dominate. Around 10 minutes after the restart, Juan Mata’s cross into the area caused problems as Lukaku headed it on to Sánchez but he was only able to find the roof the net with his effort.
Mata had an opportunity to find the back of the net himself moments later. However, he could only volley Pogba’s delightful ball into the area over the crossbar, much to the relief of the away side who were really struggling.
A huge moment in the game occurred with around an hour played. Swans substitute Abraham was kept out twice in quick succession by De Gea, much to the annoyance of the striker who slammed the pitch in frustration.
It was the first time the away side had threatened all game and they were desperately unlucky to not reduce the deficit back down to one.
With around 15 minutes to play, Mourinho decided to freshen things up by introducing Ander Herrera and Marcus Rashford who replaced Lingard and Sánchez.
Lukaku should have made sure of the victory for United in the 80th minute as he chested down Pogba’s cross but he was denied by the impressive Fabiański.
The Red Devils were able to comfortably see out the game in the latter stages as they secured a vital three points in their quest to secure second place in the Premier League.