LONDON — On a wonderful afternoon at Wembley Stadium everything went according to plan for Manchester United in the FA Community Shield.
United won their first trophy in the David Moyes era, as the Red Devils defeated Wigan Athletic 2-0 to set them up nicely for their first game of the Premier League season in less than a week.
Despite the absence of wantaway striker Wayne Rooney, Moyes’ side got off to the best possible start as Robin van Persie headed home a pinpoint Patrice Evra cross after six minutes.
The afternoon became more comfortable for United in the second half, with van Persie adding a second goal thanks to a lucky deflection off James Perch’s foot in the 61st minute.
Wigan worked hard in the Wembley sun but failed to cause David De Gea any real problems, despite a strong finish to the first half which saw striker Grant Holt come close.
It certainly wasn’t pretty at times but Moyes grabbed a win, and a trophy, in his first competitive game in charge of Manchester United. Glory glory Man United, indeed. But it was far from the comfortable win many had predicted.
Early on United clearly wanted to shelve any thoughts of a Wigan upset, with RVP’s beautiful arching header setting putting them on their way as the stadium clock ticked to exactly six minutes.
Wigan were bystanders for most of the first half, with United caressing the ball around the sumptuous Wembley pitch with consummate ease early on. Long balls up to target man Holt weren’t going to work against Nemanja Vidic and co.
But Wigan grew in stature as the game went on after being wasteful in possession during the opening stages, they forced United to defend as half time approached.
New signing Holt had a tremendous opportunity to equalize after 31 minutes as fellow new boy James McClean swung in an inviting cross that Holt couldn’t quite flick into the top corner after losing his marker.
And moments later McClean was the architect again, forcing substitute Chris Smalling into a mistake and firing a shot across goal that Holt couldn’t quite get on the end of.
Wigan were on the charge. United were under the cosh.
But as soon as Wigan mounted some pressure, Manchester United almost struck the sucker punch. A quick break down United’s left saw Danny Welbeck turn in the box and hammer a shot on goal that was well saved by Wigan’s Scott Carson.
In the second half Wigan huffed and puffed as United struggled to get a foothold in the game. But as the half wore on, driven on by the large majority of the 80,325 crowd, United began to turn the screw.
Van Persie was the hero again, as the Dutch international cut inside and struck a shot at goal which took a hefty deflection off Perch and sent Carson the wrong way in the 59th minute.
Wigan boss Owen Coyle then made a triple substitution to try and freshen things up. But by then the game was over and United cantered to victory, basking in the sunshine in North London.
Heading into the Premier League opener against Swansea next Saturday, this wasn’t the most convincing performance from the Red Devils against a side from England’s second-tier. But in the end it was Moyes’ day and a 16th Community Shield title for Manchester United.
Manchester United: De Gea; Rafael (Smalling, 16), Vidic, Jones, Evra; Zaha (Valencia, 61), Carrick, Cleverley, Giggs (Anderson, 66); Van Persie, (Januzaj, 83), Welbeck (Kagawa, 83) Subs not used: Lindegaard, Evans
Wigan: Carson; Boyce, Barnett, Perch, Crainey; Watson (Espinoza, 70), McArthur (McCann, 61), McCarthy; McClean (McManaman, 62), Holt (Fortune, 61), Maloney (Gomez, 70) Subs not used: Nicholls, Dicko
Man of the Match
Not his most glittering display but Robin van Persie was there to score when it mattered. A sublime header fit of winning any occasion and a deflected effort sealed United’s first trophy under Moyes. The first of many game-winners he’ll score for United this season.