Radamel Falcao made his debut as Manchester United belatedly kickstarted their season with a breezy 4-0 win at home to Queens Park Rangers in the Premier League on Sunday.
The 28-year-old Colombia striker, a loan signing from Monaco, made his entrance as a 67th-minute replacement for Juan Mata, but by then United had already secured an overdue first victory of the season.
Falcao, who squandered a late chance, had been the focus of pre-match attention, but it was Angel di Maria who stole the show on his home debut.
The Argentina winger put Louis van Gaal’s side ahead with a 24th-minute free-kick and had a hand in further goals by Ander Herrera, Wayne Rooney and Mata as United blew off the cobwebs in style.
After two draws and a loss in the league, and a 4-0 humiliation by Milton Keynes Dons in the League Cup, it was United’s first competitive win under Van Gaal and
meant they avoided going four league games without winning at the start of a season for the first time since 1986.
While United climbed to ninth in the table, seven points below leaders Chelsea but only two points shy of the top four, QPR remain 16th, a point above the bottom three.
Falcao began the game on the bench on a mild autumnal afternoon, but fellow signings Daley Blind and Marcos Rojo were both handed starts as Van Gaal abandoned the 3-4-1-2 formation he had introduced in pre-season.
Blind anchored a midfield diamond in front of a flat back four, with Herrera and Di Maria either side of him and Mata supporting strikers Rooney and Robin van Persie. Di Maria was again the inspiration, driving deep into QPR territory and neatly flicking the ball inside for Rooney. The United captain’s shot was blocked, but he steered the rebound into the path of Herrera, who drove a first-time shot into the bottom-left corner.