Manchester giants score thrice to beat Hull City convincingly at home
Manchester: Manchester United looked more like their old selves as they cruised to a convincing 3-0 win over lacklustre Hull at Old Trafford.
Wayne Rooney (left) shoots to score Man United's second goal against Hull City at Old Trafford on Saturday. Pic/AFP
Louis van Gaal's men dominated from start to finish and the result was never in doubt after Chris Smalling scrambled in the opening goal after 16 minutes. Captain Wayne Rooney added a second before the break and Robin van Persie made a welcome return to the scoresheet as United secured a third successive English Premier League win.
The only downside for United, in a season that has already been blighted by injuries, was the loss of record signing Angel di Maria early on with a hamstring problem while Rooney limped off after taking a blow in stoppage time.
But on this occasion the Argentinian's departure made little difference as United strolled through the game, while Hull struggled to gain a meaningful touch in the first half. Van Gaal fielded a flat back four with Smalling and Marcos Rojo, the only specialist defenders in the side, filling the centre-back spots.
Smalling stars for Utd
Smalling looked like a player transformed from the man sent off in the loss at Manchester City four weeks ago, attacking with vigour and looking composed in all areas of the field.
United were intent on attack with Juan Mata and Di Maria deployed in support of Rooney and Van Persie, who was retained despite recent poor form and the availability of Radamel Falcao after injury.
United had a half-hearted penalty appeal for handball in the second minute but it was Rooney who set the tone when he cut inside and flashed a shot wide after five minutes.
The loss of Di Maria, who had already made a couple of dangerous breaks, after 14 minutes with a hamstring injury had the potential to disrupt their rhythm. But if anything their shape looked better after Ander Herrera came off the bench.
The number of injuries Manchester United players have suffered during this season after record signing Angel di Maria hobbled off the pitch on Saturday in the 13th minute itself.