Moyes passes test with flying colours

Moyes passes test with flying colours

David Moyes' ill-fated first season in charge of Manchester United has contained many a depressing and demoralising day but few quite as surreal as on Saturday.

A floundering manager received a rapturous reception from fans inside Old Trafford while their counterparts used the sky to call for the Scot's sacking.

Strangely, too, there was a United comeback.

It was Alex Ferguson's signature move but, when Moyes' side have trailed, they have usually lost. Not this time.

For the second successive Saturday, Wayne Rooney scored a brace, Juan Mata opened his account for his new club and Javier Hernandez scored a late fourth as United were spared a third successive home league defeat, a fate they have not suffered since 1979.

With the best-paid player extending his prolific recent run - indeed only the excellent Brad Guzan denied him a hat-trick - and the club-record signing belatedly repaying a little of the £37.1 million (S$77.7 million) fee, it represented a restorative occasion.

The problem is that Bayern Munich beckon on Tuesday, ready to inflict more damage on the beleaguered Moyes.

The threat on Saturday came from overhead.

Eyes were trained to the heavens at the start as a plane, paid for by supporters, flew overhead, trailing a banner that read: "Wrong One - Moyes Out."

But the stunt backfired as it united those at the ground behind Moyes. He was afforded a generous ovation before kick-off, while the sight of the plane met with a smattering of boos.

The supporters remained loyal, too, when United conceded.

Ashley Westwood bent a free kick into the back of the net although David de Gea, who got a hand to it, perhaps should have saved it.

But, for once, United responded.

Moyes had fielded a mix-and-match 11 and the equaliser came courtesy of a fringe player and a first choice.

Shinji Kagawa crossed for Rooney to head in. It was the Japanese's first assist of the season but, finally proving influential, he helped fashioned a second goal.

Kagawa angled a pass through the Villa defence and Mata, who was lining up a shot, was fouled by the sliding Leandro Bacuna.

Rooney converted the resulting penalty in emphatic fashion and, having gone five months without a goal at Old Trafford, had two in the space of half an hour.

Villa should have had a second of their own but Christian Benteke, presented with an easy chance, missed his kick in front of goal and, instead, Moyes' two signings combined to seal victory.

A juggling Marouane Fellaini distracted Villa before Mata drilled in a low shot.

Provider and scorer cost a combined £65 million but at least there were no more damning numbers about United's decline and the marginalised Hernandez completed the scoring when another substitute, Adnan Januzaj, crossed.

stsports@sph.com.sg


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