MANCHESTER, England (AP) — Manchester United lifted the gloom around Old Trafford by beating Swansea 2-0 in the English Premier League on Saturday, ending a three-match losing run that pushed the champions to the brink of a crisis.
The relief was clear inside the iconic stadium after Antonio Valencia and Danny Welbeck scored second-half goals to revive a season that was in danger of derailing under new manager David Moyes.
The win, inspired by another great display by 18-year-old winger Adnan Januzaj, not only keeps seventh-place United in touch with the top six but will go some way to restoring confidence after a chastening start to 2014 that saw the team defeated three times in six days.
"I'd like to think that we're going to improve a lot more," Moyes said, "but you've got to start somewhere."
Valencia swept home the first goal from close range less than two minutes after the break, before Welbeck glanced in a deft finish in the 59th for his sixth goal in his last six league games.
Not since 1961 — the year the Berlin Wall was built — had United lost four straight games but that was the ignominy staring at England's biggest club after being defeated by Tottenham in the league, Swansea in the FA Cup third round and then Sunderland in the League Cup semifinals on Tuesday.
Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie were missing for the third game in a row for United because of injury while another big name was absent from the stands — former manager Alex Ferguson.
The presence of Ferguson at both home and away games this season has been regarded by some as putting extra pressure on Moyes and his stuttering team, but the Scot was reportedly in Barbados on a family vacation. He will return from the Caribbean with United in a better state of health.