Queens Park Rangers vs. Manchester United: Final score 0-2, Rafael powers United to victory

Ian Walton

Manchester United cruised past Queens Park Rangers thanks to a man-of-the-match display from Rafael, although a knock to Robin van Persie will give them cause for discomfort.

Julio Cesar was called into action early to keep United out as Ashley Young's cross found Javier Hernandez in the area, but the Brazilian was alert to tip the Mexican's header away.

Rafael has been having a superb season for United, and he produced a breathtaking few minutes of football in the first half. Robin van Persie managed to escape down the right-hand channel, but after he was denied, the ball came out for the Brazilian to smash it into the net from 25 yards, a superb effort that gave Cesar absolutely no chance. Shortly after, the young right-back continued his remarkable performance, first clearing Christopher Samba's header off the line to avoid giving away a quick equaliser, before playing in Robin van Persie with an ingenious long ball which should have doubled United's lead.

The good news was swiftly followed by bad for United, however, and Van Persie was soon withdrawn through injurywith what appeared to be a minor knock to his back. It appeared to only be a precaution, however, and United looked to seal their victory without their star man.

After half-time, Harry Redknapp decided to bring some new names into the fray to attempt to force a breakthrough, with his side having offered little. Esteban Granero was replaced by Jermaine Jenas, while Bobby Zamora was forced off with injury, January acquisition Loic Remy replacing him. The Frenchman almost had an instant impact, too, cutting inside to let fly at the United goal, but despite having little to do all afternoon, David De Gea was alert to make the stop.

With the game drawing to a close, United sealed their second goal of the day through Ryan Giggs. Danny Welbeck showed some fine play to win the ball after Rooney's errant pass, delivering it back to Evra before receiving the return and playing in Ryan Giggs, who eluded Clint Hill, drifting to the left of the goal and smashing his finish past Julio Cesar.

Queens Park Rangers' recent defensive record at home suggested this could've been a potential banana skin for United, who will have had their eyes on other competitions, but it was a surprisingly comfortable outing for the Red Devils. It was a game between first and last, of course, and it looked like it - and both of those positions are becoming less likely to change every week.

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