Manchester United defeat Norwich City 4-0 in Ryan Giggs' first game in charge
Wayne Rooney and Juan Mata both scored two goals each
Norwich are now a point above the relegation zone with two games to play
Ryan Giggs’ career as a player-manager got off to a winning start as Manchester United defeated relegation-threatened Norwich City at Old Trafford.
The United legend is temporarily at the helm of the Red Devils after David Moyes was sacked on Tuesday.
Giggs chose not to select himself for his first game in charge and instead watched from the dugout as his side, which bore six changes from last week’s loss at Everton, cruised to a comfortable 4-0 victory.
Wayne Rooney opened the scoring from the penalty spot after 40 minutes and then added a second two minutes after the break.
Substitute Juan Mata knocked in a Phil Jones center after 62 minutes to make it three before stooping to claim his own quickfire brace after Lucas Antonia Valencia rifled across goal 10 minutes later.
The win matched United’s biggest victory of the season and saw the them register more shots on target than in any other league game under Moyes.
Speaking to Sky Sports after the game, Giggs revealed he had struggled to sleep the night before and dreaded telling the players who would miss out of his team selection.
“Leaving the likes of Juan Mata out of the starting 11 was difficult and a position I’ve never been in before. I’m also one of their team-mates. I told them all individually and some of them were upset, but they didn’t sulk.
“It’s good to end the day as we did, scoring goals and creating chances,” he added. “I reminded the players the tempo needed to be quicker at half-time and they reacted well to that.”
While delighted with the result, which was United’s first win since early April, Giggs also said he was equally pleased with his team’s performance.
United looked sharper, faster and more penetrative with their passing than they have in recent weeks, particularly after taking the lead.
Norwich had coped well up until then although the breakthrough arrived after some calamitous defending by the visitors.
Three Norwich players missed opportunities to clear a weak cross into the box before the ball fell to the feet of United striker, Danny Wellbeck, who was duly hauled down by Steven Whittaker as he was about to shoot.
Referee Lee Probert pointed to the spot and Wayne Rooney stepped up to send Norwich keeper John Ruddy the wrong way.
The second half began just as the first ended with Rooney pushing forward and curling a shot beyond Ruddy from 20-yards out.
Giggs then brought on Juan Mata who had dropped to the bench after last week’s defeat at Everton and the Spanish international made it 3-0 just after the hour, knocking in a Phil Jones cross.
Norwich were well beaten by this stage and a Mata header after Valencia fired across goal made it four shortly after.
Rooney and Javier Hernandez came close in the final ten minutes for United while a deflected shot from Norwich’s Leroy Fer rebounded off the bar but the game would finish without any further scoring.
Norwich remain a point above the relegation zone in 16th position with two games to play after Fulham blew a two goal lead at home to FA Cup finalists Hull City earlier in the day, spurning the chance to move above the Canaries.
Fulham were two up with 15 minutes to play thanks to second-half strikes from Ashkan Dejagah and Fernando Amorebieta but late goals from Hull’s Shane Long and Nikica Jelavic snatched a draw.
Elsewhere in England, West Brom took a step closer to Premier League survival with a 1-0 home victory over West Ham while Aston Villa’s poor run of form continued as they were defeated 4-1 at Swansea.
In Saturday’s lunch time kick-off, Everton’s Champions League hopes took a blow as they slumped to defeat at Southampton. Own goals from Everton defenders Antolin Alcatraz and Seamus Coleman were enough to seal a 2-0 victory for the Saints.
A victory for Tottenham at 10-man Stoke means they now trail fifth placed Everton by just three points.