Queens Park Rangers vs. Manchester United: Rating the Red Devils' Players
Here are the ratings for the away team's players, which featured a stand-out performance from forward Wayne Rooney.
United lined up with an unchanged 11 from their previous fixture, partnering Phil Jones and Michael Carrick in central midfield, and Danny Welbeck up front with Rooney.
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Goalkeeper: David De Gea
A quiet game for the United custodian, who had very little to do in either half.
An outstretched left boot was enough to turn away the only real threat from QPR in the first half, a low shot from Heidar Helguson, while in the second half not a single shot troubled him unduly.
Catches in the air were few and far between, despite a succession of free-kicks and corners for United's opposition, and his kicking and throwing was pretty decent.
Nothing to do, which he won't mind about one bit.
Full-Backs: Chris Smalling and Patrice Evra
Chris Smalling had a decent game at right-back for United; he was strong and quick in the challenge in the first half and kept things tight at the back in the second.
On the opposite side, Patrice Evra had an absolute nightmare of a first half.
Jamie Mackie beat him for pace and skill on three occasions to create dangerous-looking openings for QPR, while Shaun Wright-Phillips also left Evra for dead when he switched from left to right.
United tightened things up down that flank in the second half, and QPR were unable to get the ball out to that flank quite as much as they might have liked, though Mackie did still get past Evra on one occasion.
To his credit, Evra got forward more often in the second period and overlapped to good effect twice, at one point releasing Nani in the box with a good pass which should have come to more.
Smalling did his chances of staying in the side no harm at all with a solid if unspectacular game, the most notable of which was his crunching tackles during a feisty first half to not let Wright-Phillips get any advantage over him.
Chris Smalling: 7/10
Patrice Evra: 5/10
Central Defenders: Rio Ferdinand and Johnny Evans
A very disciplined and effective performance from Manchester United's central defensive duo.
Both Rio Ferdinand and Johnny Evans were extremely impressive in limiting the threat through the centre from QPR.
Ferdinand was as strong and reliable as he has been all season, though he did manage to talk himself into a yellow card after protesting a first half decision from referee Howard Webb.
Nonetheless he led by example at was as strong in aerial duels as ground-level ones; he marked Heidar Helguson out of the game for long periods and was stronger than Jay Bothroyd when one-on-one.
Evans was very good alongside Ferdinand and will be rightly happy with his own performance.
With Nemanja Vidic sidelined for the season, a central defence position is very much up for the taking, and Evans will be confident of staying in the team with games like this under his belt.
He was unfortunate not to score on at least two occasions, though should have done better when he headed against the bar in the first half with goalkeeper Radek Cerny stranded off his line.
Rio Ferdinand: 8/10
Johnny Evans: 7/10
Central Midfielders: Phil Jones and Michael Carrick
Another partnership in the centre of the park which helped Manchester United win the game; the time and space afforded the midfield duo of Michael Carrick and Phil Jones aided the victory as they were able to break through QPR's lines time and time again.
In the first half to be fair it was a relatively low-key performance from Carrick who, though he did offer himself for passes often, did not get too involved in the fast-paced buildup of his teammates and was outshone by his infinitely more dynamic and willing-to-get-forward teammate Phil Jones.
Several times Jones burst forward and in the first half he had a glorious chance to make it 2-0 after being set through by Wayne Rooney.
In the second period it was more of the same from Jones, who also contributed well to the defence with his physical prowess allowing him to get back and make a few interceptions, but Carrick eventually stole the show—of the highlight reel at least—with a wonderfully taken solo goal which he started 10 yards inside his own half after intercepting a loose pass from Joey Barton, and finished on the edge of the QPR penalty box by planting a low shot past Radek Cerny for 2-0.
Some fine footwork and an unusually energetic burst in between from Carrick made it a strike to remember.
Michael Carrick: 7/10
Phil Jones: 8/10
Wingers: Antonio Valencia and Nani
Antonio Valencia got Manchester United off to the perfect start after less than a minute, as he seized on Wayne Rooney's knockdown, surged off down the right flank and delivered a perfect cross which Rooney nodded into the back of QPR net, putting the away side ahead after 53 seconds.
He followed that up with an energetic and lively first 45 minutes, causing left-back Armand Traore several problems with his direct running and willingness to put in an early cross.
Both wide men were instrumental in a frantic first half where attack was the only form of defence from both sides.
Nani showed plenty of nice touches and linked up well as part of almost a five-man front line for United, and his trickery on the opposite flank cutting in was a constant source of danger.
In the end perhaps Nani's end product was not quite up to scratch according to some of his team's approach play, which was absolutely fantastic at times, but a good performance from both players nonetheless.
Antonio Valencia: 8/10
Strikers: Danny Welbeck and Wayne Rooney
Danny Welbeck had an energetic and lively match too for Manchester United, and though he didn't trouble the scoresheet today, he was involved in a lot of their buildup play and was always a threat with his runs in behind the QPR defence.
Wayne Rooney, on the other hand, was simply unplayable.
Quite simply, one of the finest performances of any player this season.
His first-time passing was extremely good and well-timed, he took players on when the opportunity arose and he was never afraid to look for his teammates instead of taking a more difficult shot, even after his first-minute opening goal.
Danny Welbeck: 7/10
Wayne Rooney: 9/10
Substitutes: Javier Hernandez, Ryan Giggs, Ashley Young
Javier Hernandez came on midway through the second half in place of Danny Welbeck to mark his return to the first team for Manchester United.
He looked relatively sharp and was always looking to get involved around the box of QPR, but as his side were already two goals to the good, the pace of the game noticeably dropped and he found it a little difficult to get involved in the match on a regular basis.
Ryan Giggs and Ashley Young both only featured for the final minutes of the game and did not really see too much action, though one nice piece of control and layoff from Giggs almost set up Hernandez for a third goal.
Javier Hernandez: 6/10
Ryan Giggs and Ashley Young: no rating