Manchester United beat struggling Hull City 3-0 at Old Trafford on Saturday afternoon thanks to goals from Chris Smalling, Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie.

The home side surprised many by switching to a flat back four from the three-man defence they utilised in their 2-1 win at Arsenal last weekend.

But that change had no impact on United’s fluency as they dominated proceedings right from the kick-off, and it was no real surprise when centre-back Smalling gave them a 16th-minute lead following a Juan Mata corner on the left.

The England international reacted quickest after seeing his initial header at the back post palmed away by Allan McGregor in the Tigers goal, before poking the ball over a crowded goal-line.

However, it still needed referee Anthony Taylor to consult his watch before being given the go-ahead to award the goal, with TV replays subsequently confirming that the whole of the ball had indeed just crossed the goal-line.

And despite United losing influential playmaker Angel di Maria early on to a hamstring problem – the 42nd injury that the Red Devils have picked up already so far this campaign – they still managed to double their lead three minutes before half-time through in-form striker Rooney.

The move was started by Mata and when the ball was eventually worked to the England skipper some 20 yards out from goal after good build-up play from both substitute Ander Herrera and Van Persie, Rooney side-footed past McGregor.

And that goal by Rooney was his seventh in just five matches against Hull, while United’s captain also now has an impressive 67 strikes inhis last 101 Premier League contests at Old Trafford.

Meanwhile for the visitors, the second half was simply a case of damage limitation after an opening 45 minutes in which United No. 1 David de Gea did not have a single shot on target to deal with.

However, hard as they tried, the north-east outfit struggled to carve out many meaningful openings after the break, apart from a Nikica Jelavic header that flew narrowily off target.

For the home team, though, the icing on the cake came midway through the second period when the previously misfiring Van Persie finally ended his recent goal drought, and in some style too after the Dutchman rifled home an unstoppable finish from the left-hand corner of the penalty area.

Van Persie had scored only eight goals in 21 league games this year heading into this afternoon’s encounter, down from 19 in 29 in 2013, and while the forward is still some way off the levels he displayed in his memorable debut campaign at the Theatre of Dreams, finding the back of the net in such style today may now see him retrurn to his normally deadly best in front of goal.

The Red Devils even had time to reintroduce Radamel Falcao into the fray for the final 20 minutes following a recent layoff with a calf injury, with the Colombian goal machine coming on for Van Persie.

And as for Van Gaal’s rapidly evolving United team, that is three straight top-flight wins for the first time since December, while for Steve Bruce and Hull a long hard season clearly awaits.


Manchester United: De Gea (7), Valencia (7), Smalling (8), Rojo (6), Young (8), Fellaini (7), Carrick (8), Mata (8), di Maria (6), Van Persie (7), Rooney (8)

Used subs: Falcao (6), Herrera (9), Fletcher (6)

Hull City: McGregor (7), Chester (6), Dawson (7), Davies (6), Elmohamady (7), Diame (6), Livermore (6), Brady (7), Roberston (8), Ben Arfa (4), Jelavic (5)

Used subs: Meyler (5), Aluko (7), Quinn (6)

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