Premier League: Swansea City 2-1 Manchester United
Swansea: Ki Sung-Yueng (30), Bafetimbi Gomis (73)
United: Ander Herrera (28)
Manchester United slipped to a 2-1 defeat at Swansea City after briefly going ahead at the Liberty Stadium.
Ander Herrera finished off a fine move to give the Reds the lead in the first half, but United were in front for less than two minutes when Ki Sung-Yueng slipped through the defence to level the scores. After the break, Bafetimbi Gomis diverted a rasping Jonjo Shelvey shot with his head for a goal that ultimately condemned Louis van Gaal's men to a first defeat on the road since November’s Manchester derby.
That United dominated for a long spell after half-time without converting pressure into chances will make the defeat even more galling. The result pushes the Reds down to fourth place ahead of Southampton, who take on Liverpool on Sunday.
Louis van Gaal opted to make three changes from the side that started against Preston, with Robin van Persie, Phil Jones – on his 23rd birthday – and Paddy McNair replacing Radamel Falcao, Chris Smalling and Antonio Valencia.
Herrera was making his first start in the Barclays Premier League since 2 December, and the Spanish midfielder made a vital intervention in defence early on. Gomis arrowed a header goalwards from a corner but Herrera made a crucial block on the line, with replays proving only part of the ball had crossed the line.
Swansea’s French forward Gomis was soon allowed another free header, and Wayne Routledge had the space to fire a shot at David De Gea as the hosts failed to take advantage of chances in the opening stages. United's players looked to be finding their feet when van Persie skimmed the face of the crossbar from a tight angle, but De Gea then had to react smartly to thwart Gomis with a dive at the striker’s feet.
The Reds went ahead, if only for two minutes, when a move across the pitch involving Luke Shaw, Wayne Rooney and Angel Di Maria was smartly finished off by Herrera with a low shot in off the post. But the Spaniard’s second goal in as many games was quickly cancelled out when Ki ghosted in front of Shaw to deftly clip a Shelvey cross past De Gea.
Chances were at a premium for the remainder of the first half, but De Gea was called on early in the second half, blocking a flick from Ki at close range with his chest after the Korean had breached the Reds defence. The chance seemed to stir United, who then camped out in the Swansea half for long spells but, crucially, without causing many problems for goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski.
United stepped up the pressure but were stopped short at the crucial moment several times, with the ball not quite dropping for van Persie after a one-two with Rooney, who also could not react quickly enough when the ball came off Daley Blind in the penalty area.
And United paid the price for not converting pressure into goals when Swansea went ahead. Shelvey’s long-range shot was on target, but a deflection off the head of Gomis deceived De Gea to give the Welsh side a textbook against-the-run-of-play goal.
Juan Mata was introduced as United sought a leveller, but a forward line with Marouane Fellaini in support continued to find it hard to forge a chance of note. The match became heated with a spate of bookings for both sides in the closing stages, and a number of stoppages failed to aid the visitors' cause as there were no real frights at the back for the Swans.
Marcos Rojo came closest to an equaliser when pressurising Fabianski but, ultimately, the Reds could not prevent Swansea from claiming a league double over United for the first time in their history. With Sunderland up next for the Reds, van Gaal's men will be determined to bounce back quickly.
Swansea: Fabianski, Naughton, Fernandez, Williams, Taylor, Ki, Cork, Shelvey (Amat 90+4), Routledge, Sigurdsson (Montero 74), Gomis.
Subs not used: Tremmel, Britton, Emnes, Castro Oliveira, Rangel.
Booked: Williams, Shelvey.
United: De Gea, McNair (Valencia 46), Jones, Rojo, Shaw (Young 59), Blind, Herrera, Fellaini, Di Maria (Mata 79), Rooney, van Persie.
Subs not used: Valdes, Smalling, Januzaj, Falcao.
Booked: Fellaini, Jones, Young, Rojo.