DAVID Moyes made a winning start to his Manchester United reign as the Premier League champions began their title defence with a 4-1 victory over Swansea City at the Liberty Stadium.
The first goal of the Scot’s tenure came from a familiar source, last season’s top-scorer Robin van Persie, before Danny Welbeck added another 90 seconds later to effectively end the contest before half-time.
Van Persie claimed his second goal with 20 minutes left and, although Swansea’s club-record signing Wilfried Bony scored a late consolation on his league debut, Welbeck completed his brace in injury time to give the scoreline a final gloss.
United had faced thorough examinations on both their previous visits to the Liberty, drawing there last season and edging their way to a tight 1-0 victory in 2011.
But this was a more straightforward victory, with Moyes’s side navigating a fiery opening to ensure it was a comfortable first league outing in the post-Sir Alex Ferguson era.
Swansea had provided the opposition for Sir Alex’s final game at Old Trafford, and they threatened to ruin that farewell party when Michu equalised in the second half before a late Rio Ferdinand winner.
Michael Laudrup’s men were equally eager to mar the beginning of Moyes’s reign, and a full-blooded start to the match suggested this would be a rigorous workout for the visitors.
There were only two minutes on the clock when new Swansea signing Jose Canas was booked for a rash lunge on Tom Cleverley, while United’s Antonio Valencia was shown a yellow card five minutes later when he responded with a body-check on Canas.
Moyes’s side soon began to pick holes in the Swans’ midfield and defence, with Phil Jones and Welbeck both forcing saves from Michel Vorm.
There were opportunities for the hosts too. Michu had the ball in the United net, but his follow-up to Wayne Routledge’s initial shot was ruled out because Nathan Dyer was offside.
Michu then went close twice in quick succession, once with a neat turn and shot and then with a header from the resultant corner.
Swansea’s forays into the United half had buoyed the home support, but their growing sense of hope was pierced when van Persie put the visitors ahead.
The chance came in an untidy manner with the hosts unable to clear, but the Dutchman’s finish was a picture of precision as he hooked the ball at shoulder-height into the bottom corner.
Before Swansea had a chance to reorganise, they had fallen further behind.
Again, the Swans failed to clear properly and the ball fell to Valencia, whose low cross was converted from close range by Welbeck.
Those two goals silenced the Liberty and, although the hosts battled gamely at the start of the second half, they looked short of ideas.
Bony and Pablo Hernandez came on, but Swansea’s attacks lacked their usual composure and subtlety.
Any slim hopes of a revival were extinguished with 20 minutes left, and it was van Persie who was again on hand with an emphatic finish from the edge of the area.
The most optimistic of Swansea fans might have hoped Bony’s late goal – a neat strike just inside the United box – would have prompted a comeback to make Sir Alex proud.
But it was little more than a consolation as Welbeck finished with a brilliant chip after Wayne Rooney’s pass to ensure the champions began their title defence in fine fashion.