With a handful of new players and a new formation by their new manager, things have finally begun to come together for Manchester United.
It helped that the side they played had a nightmarish performance.
Manchester United ravaged Queens Park Rangers 4-0 as the club picked up its first win of the Louis van Gaal era in thrashing fashion.
Angel Di Maria ran the QPR defense – including Old Trafford veteran Rio Ferdinand – ragged and his fellow attacking midfielders in Ander Herrera, Juan Mata, and Wayne Rooney all joined the former Real Madrid man on the scoresheet.
The home side started with pace and power, but weren’t able to get a good chance on net in the opening 10 minutes. QPR defended well, and there wasn’t a sense of urgency on either side as they both tried to feel out the opponent’s set up.
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With United picking and probing at the QPR defense, the Red Devils earned a free kick outside the corner of the box on a foul by Clint Hill in the 24th minute. Angel Di Maria stepped up and took the free kick, which bent through the box and evaded any threatening bodies in the box. Fortunately for United, because the kick was bending and just a tad overhit, it tucked into the far corner of the net for the opening goal.
Rangers goalkeeper Robert Green could do nothing to prevent the goal, as he had to hold his ground until the ball evaded all United attackers. By that point, it was too late for him to adjust to the curling ball as it sliced inside the far post, causing Louis van Gaal to crack a bit of a laugh as he celebrated.
The goal is Di Maria’s first for Manchester United since coming over from Real Madrid for a whopping $99 million.
Seven minutes later QPR saw their first chance on the break, as Matthew Phillips collected at the top of the box after a bit of a mix up between David de Gea and Marcos Rojo, but the striker’s attempt on the empty net was low and it allowed Johnny Evans to make a last-ditch sliding block on the shot.
United were not pegged back, and their continued attack again paid dividends in the 36th minute. It was Ander Herrera’s turn to pick up his first Manchester United goal when Di Maria blasted down the left flank doing all the hard work. He found Wayne Rooney who touched to the new midfielder amid pressure, and Herrera cut his low shot across the face of goal to the far post leaving Green with no chance.
They’d pick up a third before halftime to state their intentions with the new look, as Rooney bagged one of his own after a brilliant bit of passing. Di Maria, Herrera, Juan Mata, Herrera, Rooney, goal.
Out of the halftime break, QPR pressed brightly and had a quick chance. Substitute Armand Traore burst down the middle of the pitch past a number of United midfielders, and he cut back well in the box, giving him a chance to lay the ball off to a trailing Niko Kranjcar. With the defenders sucked towards Traore on the edge of the box, the Croatian midfielder had only David de Gea to beat, but he struck the ball right at the feet of the United midfielder.
The home side returned to the ascendency, and had a few half-chances as the second half wore on before they got back to scoring goals. Di Maria added an assist to his tally with a savory pass from the wing to Mata lurking in the box and it was an easy finish for the Spaniard.
Following the fourth, United sunk back into their shell, returning to holding possession, probing the QPR defense with the occasional question, and seeing out the game.
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Substitute striker Eduardo Vargas nearly nicked a consolation for QPR after stealing the ball from Tyler Blackett but he scuffed his shot wide as the clock ticked past 15 minutes to go.
Radamel Falcao made his first Manchester United appearance off the bench, and nearly picked up his first goal for the club as time wound down. A shot from Daley Blind from well far out tested Green, who parried the shot wide. Falcao galloped onto the ball but he was closed down well by a recovering Green and his shot was smothered.
The win for the Red Devils pushes them into the top half of the table, past Everton for 9th on goal differential. Queens Park Rangers have one lone win on the year, as their three points are leapfrogged by United to drop the team to 16th.
Manchester United: De Gea; Rafael (Valencia 67′), Evans, Rojo, Blackett; Blind, Herrera, Mata (Falcao 67′), Di Maria (Januzaj 82′), Rooney; van Persie.
Goals: Di Maria 24′, Herrera 36′, Rooney 44′, Mata 58′
Queens Park Rangers: Green; Hill (Traore 46′), Ferdinand, Caulker, Isla; Sandro (Henry 74′), Kranjcar, Fer; Phillips, Hoilett, Austin (Vargas 59′).