SCORERS: Manchester United - Valencia 47; Welbeck 59
At Old Trafford, where Swansea won for the first time in last weekend’s FA Cup tie, the Welsh side were unable to repeat their heroics as United rediscovered the form that earned them six straight wins before an awful start to 2014.
The tension created by a goalless opening 45 minutes, in which the brilliant Adnan Januzaj curled a free-kick against the bar and Welbeck missed a sitter, was broken straight after the break when Valencia rammed home from close range.
Welbeck’s sixth goal in nine games on the hour made the game safe, although an abysmal miss from Chris Smalling and a goal-line clearance from Leon Britton to deny Shinji Kagawa prevented United adding the extra gloss.
Scotland captain Darren Fletcher felt more urgency in the second half allowed United to end their horror run.
He said: “We raised the tempo in the second half.
“Swansea like to keep the ball and are one of the best teams in the league. There was a slight tactical change too, with Adnan Janujaz going out to the left and Shingi [Kagawa] in behind the striker.
“It worked and we went on to win the game.”
Janujaz was key to that, with the teenager excelling, not for the first time this season.
“He’s a young lad who has come in and been a revelation,” Fletcher said of the 18-year-old.
“We knew their right-back [Angel Rangel] was on a yellow and wanted to get the ball to him as much as we could.”
Janujaz added: “We got the three points, the team won and we all did well. I hope we keep going. I just play my game and do my best.”
Fletcher is still returning to full fitness and form after a long illness and said: “I think there is more to come. I am relying on experience at the minute. I am happy to be contributing and the team are winning.”
The first goal came when Januzaj wriggled free by the touchline before dropping a cross on the six-yard line. Ashley Williams attempted to clear but the Swansea skipper flicked the ball to Kagawa, whose header was palmed away by Tremmel. Valencia was ready for the rebound, ramming it gleefully into the net.
In their present fragile state, United could not afford to settle and poured forward looking for a second. It arrived when Evra nudged the ball into the area, after initially looking like he was set to shoot, and there was enough momentum behind it for Welbeck to find the corner with a deft flick.
United manager David Moyes has been weighed down by comparisons to the reign of former manager Sir Alex Ferguson all week, but was able to smile again.
“We played well but didn’t do enough in the first half,” he said. “We limited them to few opportunities and in the end we got the result we deserved. I told them at half-time to work harder and create more chances.”
Swansea manager Michael Laudrup admitted Valencia’s goal was the key moment.
“They scored after 90 seconds [of the second half],” he said. “It’s always nice to score, always a good moment, but there are better moments than others. It really hurt us. The better moments are before or after half-time.
“We controlled the first half and knew Man United had three consecutive losses and may be a little nervous. That goal was the difference.”