15/12/2013 16:00, Report by Tim Oscroft
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The Match: Ruthless Reds

After the match report, reviews the Villa game in more detail...

The Match The United players bided their time, absorbing some early pressure from Villa, before hitting their stride with a vibrant, confident performance. The pace of the Reds on the break made a youthful home side look sluggish by comparison, while Ryan Giggs’ speed of thought while orchestrating the midfield underlined his continued value to the side. The Barclays Premier League champions ruthlessly exploited their young opponents’ lack of guile and experience by pouncing on their prey when the chances arrived.

Goals Adnan Januzaj’s powerful header onto the base of the post, from Rafael's close-to-the-byline cross, deserved a goal, but Danny Welbeck reacted smartly to tuck the ball home with a poacher’s finish for his first. Two minutes later the England man’s give-and-go to Antonio Valencia was followed by a sprint that saw him nip in just ahead of Januzaj to double the lead. The Villans’ carelessness in midfield was rapidly exposed when Tom Cleverley collected a return pass from Wayne Rooney before firing the ball past Brad Guzan at the American keeper’s near post.

Star men Robin Van Persie’s thigh injury presented a chance for someone to seize their opportunity up front, and Danny Welbeck repaid David Moyes’ faith in his abilities as a front man. Some selfless displays for the team by Welbeck when complementing the Reds’ other strikers were rewarded, as was his determination and aggression when the chances came. Valencia gave Villa left-back Antonio Luna a torrid time, while Januzaj had his most influential game for a while.

Sub-plots Welbeck had indicated his preference for playing as a striker in his interview with MUTV before the game, and he took his opportunity in RVP’s injury-enforced absence. Tom Cleverley helped to dominate Villa’s midfield and also thoroughly deserved his goal as reward.

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Premier League