Robin van Persie struck inside three minutes against his former club as Manchester United eased to a 2-1 victory over Arsenal at Old Trafford.
The prolific Dutchman was taunted throughout by visiting fans but reminded them of his talents in the opening moments in a Barclays Premier League contest United dominated from the outset.
Wayne Rooney missed United's fourth penalty of the season but Patrice Evra added a second and Arsenal's misery was compounded by the sending off Jack Wilshere, before Santi Cazorla hit an injury-time consolation.
Van Persie needed little time to remind the Gunners of what they lost when he left the Emirates Stadium in a £24million move over the summer. Arsenal's defensive frailties were again in evidence as United swept forward and Antonio Valencia bypassed Andre Santos by releasing Rafael down the right with a deft backheel.
The Brazilian whipped in an awkward low cross which caught Thomas Vermaelen off balance and his attempted clearance rolled straight to Van Persie, who fired past Vito Mannone from inside the box. Van Persie went close again as he raced onto a defence-slitting pass by Rooney but Vito Mannone saved well.
United could have doubled their lead on the stroke of half-time after Cazorla handled an Ashley Young cross at point-blank range just inside the box. The Spaniard felt the award was harsh and he could argue he was protecting his face but it did not matter as Rooney dragged the resulting spot-kick wide.
Arsenal continued to lack a spark after the break but Olivier Giroud almost provided one after a neat touch beat Rio Ferdinand and gave him a shooting chance but he could only hit the side-netting from a tight angle.
Van Persie was booked after a late challenge on Bacary Sagna but was back in more familiar position just after the hour as he was picked out by a fine cross by Ashley Young, but Mannone got a vital hand to his low shot. Arsenal could not hold out much longer and from a short corner routine Rooney crossed for Evra and he planted a firm header inside the post.
The Gunners' agonies grew as Wilshere, booked in the first half and fortunate to escape a second yellow card for a bad tackle on Van Persie, was penalised for one bad tackle too many, this time on Evra, and saw red.
Van Persie and substitute Anderson both thought they had added a third for United but were both correctly denied by an offside flag. United played out the closing moments with little alarm until Cazorla netted a fine consolation from the edge of the box with what proved the last kick of the game.
- Sports & Recreation
- Patrice Evra
- Santi Cazorla
- Wayne Rooney
- Manchester United
- Jack Wilshere