The Reds played some of their best football this season in the second half at the Liberty Stadium, but went down to a deflected Jonjo Shelvey goal at exactly the point when United began to look likely to force a winner in their favour.
There had been some edgy moments early in the game. United survived a scare when Herrera cleared a Gomis header off the line. Neither the defending on the corner nor the lack of organisation at the back that led to it inspired confidence and Gomis was a constant thorn in United’s side in the first half, getting another header off target and twice almost springing a nervous looking United defence.
United’s midfield were also seeing a lot of the ball, though too often attacks were breaking down before reaching the opponents’ area. That changed when a quick exchange of passes between Di Maria and Rooney set up Herrera on the edge of the box and the Basque buried his shot in the far corner.
Sadly, the lead didn’t last long. Swansea’s response was swift, with Shelvey’s ball from the left finding Ki Sung-Yueng in the area and the Korean producing a finish that gave De Gea no chance. The setback didn’t quell the momentum United had built up, however, and there were several enterprising moves before the end of the first half, though a final ball was too often lacking and the Reds’ failure to cover the flanks effectively continued to enable dangerous counter-attacks from the home side.
The teams went in level at half-time, in a fair reflection of the proceedings. United introduced Valencia at half-time, presumably in an attempt to fortify against Swansea attacks on the left as well as giving United more penetration down that side, but the first chance of the second half still came from that route, with De Gea having to be smart to deny Ki Sung-Yueng as he sought to connect again with a Shelvey cross.
When Young came on to provide balance on the other side, his introduction immediately lifted the Reds. Young’s work on the left led to a chance falling to Van Persie, but the Dutchman hit his shot into the side-netting. The Reds were enjoying their most concerted pressure of the game now and, when they forced a corner following a mix-up in the Swansea defence, Rojo connected with it only for his free header to go harmlessly over the bar.
Both Rooney and Blind went close for United before Shelvey, who’d carried a threat all afternoon, gave the home side the lead very much against the run of play, his long-range shot clipping Gomis on its way to goal to wrong-foot De Gea.
It was, inevitably, a sickener and, though United continued to press until the end, it was clear their best chance of winning this game was long on. Cue the long-ball to Fellaini up front and a last desperate attempt to salvage something from the game: the Swansea defenders were too cultured for that, sadly, and the Reds fell to a second defeat at the hands of the Swans this season.