The Louis Van Gaal era at Old Trafford was resuscitated in a thrilling 4-0 demolition of QPR. Angel DiMaria, Ander Herrera, Wayne Rooney and Juan Mata all got on the scoresheet as United battered West London side. DiMaria was the jewel in the crown, energising United’s attack with his pace and direct running.
Van Gaal started with a 4 man defence for the first time this season, Tyler Blackett partnering Jonny Evans at centre half with Rafael and debutant Marcos Rojo deployed as full backs. In midfield they set up as a diamond with Daley Blind operating at the base, flanked by Ander Herrera and DiMaria and Juan Mata behind the front two at the tip. Radamel Falcao had to be content with a place on the bench as Van Persie partnered Wayne Rooney in attack.
It was a fast start for the home side and they looked dangerous down the left, DiMaria and Rojo combining well in attack. There was a higher tempo to United’s passing than in previous games this season, Juan Mata firing their first effort over the bar after neat work from Rafael and Herrera. DiMaria, playing on the left of the diamond, looked in electrifying form and it was the record signing that broke the deadlock. The Argentine’s deliciously whipped free kick evaded everyone in the box, and found its way into the corner of Rob Green’s goal. DiMaria was at the heart of everything going forward for United, his movement and first touch particularly outstanding. He was the catalyst for the second goal, collecting the ball in his own half and setting off on a blistering run to the QPR box, his reverse ball finding Rooney who after having his shot blocked fed Herrera, the Spaniard steering the ball into the bottom corner. The only threat from QPR came after a mix up between DeGea and Rojo left the keeper stranded but Matty Phillips failed to capitalise, his tame effort cleared by Evans. Before the break the home side had their third, after some slick passing Herrera fed Rooney who beat Green at his near post with a low strike.
QPR grew into the game somewhat after the interval, DeGea saving with his feet to deny Niko Kranjcar early on. However just before the hour mark, it was four, DiMaria’s scuffed effort on goal reached Juan Mata inside the area, the Spaniard instantly controlling the ball and lifting it over Green into the roof of the net. An assist for DiMaria, although a fortuitous one. After receiving a standing ovation during his warmup, Radamel Falcao was introduced, replacing Mata in a double substitution that saw Rafael make way for Antonio Valencia. The Colombian striker almost marked his debut with a goal after Green could only parry Blind’s long range effort into his path, but the keeper did well to recover and smother Falcao’s effort. United continued to create chances late on but it was to finish 4-0.
While DiMaria deservedly collected the Man of the Match award, fellow new signings Daley Blind and Ander Herrera impressed. Blind was effective in screening the back four and launching attacks at the base of midfield while Herrera worked the ball well. Tougher tests lie ahead but United’s season has been well and truly kick started.