FOUR unanswered goals from Manchester United sealed a miserable afternoon for QPR on Sunday.
Angel Di Maria’s opener was added to by Ander Herrera and Wayne Rooney before half-time, while Juan Mata’s second-half strike completed the scoring.
Harry Redknapp’s side found themselves second best on a difficult outing at Old Trafford, where debuts for Sandro and Eduardo Vargas ended in defeat.
Redknapp made two changes from the R’s victory over Sunderland two weeks earlier. Sandro was handed his Rangers debut, joined by fellow deadline day arrival Niko Kranjcar as midfield duo Joey Barton and Jordon Mutch missed out.
Rio Ferdinand – who made over 450 appearances for United – made his first return to the Theatre of Dreams, part of a four-man defence alongside Mauricio Isla, Steven Caulker and captain Clint Hill.
Sandro, Kranjcar and Leroy Fer made up midfield while Charlie Austin was flanked by Matty Phillips and Junior Hoilett in attack.
Meanwhile, Louis van Gaal was able to include new signings Marcos Rojo and Daley Blind amongst his starting XI, with Radamel Falco and Luke Shaw amongst the substitutes.
And it was the hosts who started on the frontfoot, creating the first chance inside eight minutes. Rafael and Herrera combined down the right to tee-up Mata, only for the Spaniard to thrash his shot high over Rob Green’s goal.
Just when Rangers seemed to have weathered the early storm, Green was beaten on 24 minutes. Di Maria’s teasing free-kick from 25 yards evaded everybody inside the box as the ball curled past Green’s despairing dive to nestle inside the far post.
Di Maria turned provider six minutes later. His cross from the left found Robin van Persie, but the Dutchman couldn’t steer his header on target.
Despite their early dominance, a defensive slip almost allowed Rangers a way back. Phillips pounced on indecision between David De Gea and Rojo, only to be denied by a last-ditch block by Jonny Evans with De Gea stranded outside his area.
Rangers would rue not making the most of the chance, as United doubled their lead soon after the half-hour mark. Rooney’s initial effort was blocked, but he teed-up Herrera to dispatch the loose ball emphatically into the bottom corner from 18 yards.
Two became three on the stroke of half-time. This time Herrera offloaded for Rooney to take a touch before firing low into bottom corner as the R’s defence were breached all too easily again.
Redknapp made an alteration at the break, introducing Armand Traore in place of Hill.
And the R’s substitute almost made an instant impact, creating a chance after the re-start for Kranjcar from a lung-bursting run deep into the United half. Kranjcar’s first-timed shot was on target but kept out by De Gea’s outstretched leg.
At the other end, Rangers had Green to thank after smothering Rooney’s flick from Mata’s goalbound shot.
Mata would find the net from the next attack, though. Di Maria’s speculative long-range shot fell perfectly for the Spaniard 10 yards out, who coolly lifted the ball over Green for United’s fourth.
Eduardo Vargas replaced Austin from the re-start for his R’s bow, before Green had to be alert to prevent a fifth goal on 65 minutes, clutching Robin van Persie’s volley from Di Maria’s delicious chipped pass.
Sandro’s first appearance in a R’s shirt ended 16 minutes from time, replaced by Karl Henry as Redknapp looked to shore things up for the closing stages.
Instead, Vargas came close to providing a late consolation. The Chilean latched onto Rojo’s misplaced pass but dragged his shot agonisingly wide.
Meanwhile, there was still time for Green to be called upon again to deny substitutes Falcao and Adnan Januzaj in injury time as Rangers ensured the 4-0 scoreline didn't worsen.