Rampant Rooney helps rejuvenated Reds to run riot

Queens Park Rangers 0 Manchester United 2

Loftus Road

Manchester United may be out of the Champions League, beset by injuries and challenged by noisy neighbours, but they have few problems despatching the Premier League's lesser lights. Since the 6-1 humbling by Manchester City, the champions have taken 19 points from 21 in the League and this easy win enabled them to top the division for the first time in two months.

Their appearance at the summit may have been brief but United are not going to surrender their title without a struggle. "They showed what depth they have in their squad," said QPR manager Neil Warnock, "you can toss a coin as to who is the best team."

Sir Alex Ferguson's options improved with the return of Javier Hernandez, only two weeks after suffering an ankle injury that was forecast to keep him out for more than a month. The Mexican was given a half-hour run-out and the Scot will be pleased his best finisher is back given the chances his team missed.

Wayne Rooney, after 51 seconds, put United ahead and the rather less prolific Michael Carrick secured the points after 56 minutes, but there should have been many more goals. Johnny Evans and Phil Jones hit the woodwork, Rooney and Evans had efforts cleared off the line, and Radek Cerny made fine saves from Danny Welbeck, Jones and Nani. Further chances were simply wasted by Rooney, Welbeck, Nani and Luis Valencia.

"It was a good performance, but I thought we were wasteful," said Ferguson. "We should have had it won by the 30-minute mark. The goalkeeper made two fantastic saves and we missed some very good chances.

"Going out of the Champions League was a disappointment but we are not immune to losing a game. Obviously we don't want to lose big ones but the nature of our club is that we get on with it – we don't sit and moan. We had to do something about it and I think the players have done that. Hopefully by the New Year we can be round about the top of the league."

Ferguson will be 70 on New Year's Eve, but remains as enthusiastic as ever and he was off his feet in the opening minute as United took advantage of some sloppy defending by Rangers, Rooney heading in at the back post from Valencia's cross.

It was a body blow for QPR, who beat Chelsea here and worried Manchester City, but needed a good start to turn Loftus Road into its intimidating best for this early kick-off if they were to challenge United. Initially they responded boldly with Heidar Helguson heading wide and Jay Bothroyd shooting over from a good position, but while some of their approach play was neat, too often the final ball was poor and the chances dried up.

Not so at the other end where Rooney was operating between the lines to devastating effect, United's midfield runners caused problems, and their wingers ran loose. Somehow Cerny and his centre-halves held them at bay and Rangers might even have reached the break level with Bothroyd and Helguson threatening.

They began the second period, however, in disarray, with Danny Gabbidon not even on the pitch, after having stitches inserted at the break. United promptly drove straight through the centre and Rooney could have scored again. It only delayed the inevitable, as United put the match to bed 10 minutes later. Joey Barton had played a lot of good passes, but he sent a square ball straight to Carrick who strode unchallenged from the halfway line before driving past Cerny. It was his first league goal for two years.

Further chances came and went, mainly for United, although Warnock's 65th-minute double substitution almost paid dividends as one replacement, Adel Taarabt, set up DJ Campbell, who managed to shoot over from five yards. It showed what Taarabt, a peripheral figure this year due to his inability to marry effort to his talent, is capable off. Perhaps he watched Rooney doing so and the penny dropped, but one doubts it.

Substitutes: Queens Park Rangers Taarabt 6 (Wright-Phillips, 65), Campbell 4 (Helguson, 65), Hill 6 (Bothroyd, 75). Manchester United Hernandez 6 (Welbeck, 63), Giggs (Rooney, 78), Young (Nani, 88). Booked: QPR Gabbidon. Man United Jones, Ferdinand.

Man of the match Rooney. Match rating 7/10.

Possession: QPR 45% Man United 55%.

Attempts on target: QPR 3 Man United 12.

Referee H Webb (S Yorkshire).

Attendance 18,033.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Laura Trott with her gold
Commonwealth Games
Arts and Entertainment
Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman
film
News
Bryan had a bracelet given to him by his late father stolen during the raid
people
Sport
France striker Loic Remy
sportThe QPR striker flew to Boston earlier in the week to complete deal
Extras
indybestSpice up your knife with our selection of delicious toppings
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried