United maintain momentum with win over Villans



Wayne Rooney scored twice as Manchester United maintained a five point Premier League lead with victory over Aston Villa at Old Trafford. The United striker lashed home a superb volley with less than a minute on the clock and then sidefooted a second before half-time for just his fifth and sixth goals of the season. Villa’s new £24 million man Darren Bent pulled a goal back on the hour before captain Nemanja Vidic drove an unstoppable shot past high into the top corner to seal United’s win.

The win marks a welcome return to form for United, with Sir Alex Ferguson’s side labouring to wins over Blackpool and Southampton in the past week. In truth United had the tie well under control from the off after Rooney’s stunning opening goal on 56 seconds. Indeed, if neither the Reds nor Rooney have been at their best this season, then Ferguson’s outfit stepped up a level in front of 75,256 at Old Trafford.

“The man’s got a great appetite to play and everyone should remember that,” said Ferguson of 25-year-old Rooney.

“We remember that – he has a great appetite to work and fight and he gets his rewards eventually.

“You keep knocking off the games and if we can keep winning then eventually you run out of games. The aim for us is to keep the momentum going and keep the work-rate up like we did tonight against a good Aston Villa team and hopefully it gets us where we want to be.”

The United manager resisted calls to drop Rooney despite the striker’s paucity of goals this season. With Mexican Javier Hernández bagging two goals in the past week, supporters would have forgiven Ferguson for dropping his star man. Instead the 69-year-old Scot was rewarded inside a minute with Rooney controlling Edwin van der Sar’s 60-year-pass and lashing a volley past Brad Friedle in the visitor’s goal.

It was the perfect start for Ferguson’s men, who have come from behind twice in three days this week.

There was more to United’s play that Rooney’s early goal though, with the Reds far slicker in possession than has often been the case this season and Villa struggling to stay on terms. Indeed, Ferguson’s men were denied a clear penalty when Richard Dunne brought down Nani. The Portuguese then fired just over Friedel’s goal, before Patrice Evra and the outstanding Ryan Giggs each went close for the home side.

Far fetched as it seemed but Villa was on the cusp of making it to the break just a goal down and still in the tie. That was until Rooney ran on to Nani’s cross and slotted home to double his tally and United’s lead.

Yet it was to Villa’s credit that the Midlanders fought their way back into the tie, even if the pattern of the match changed little after the break. United had thrown away victories at both Everton and Fulham this season and when Bent headed home Stuart Downing’s cross on 58 minutes the Old Trafford crowd feared more dropped points.

However, any doubt about the result was dispelled in the most emphatic fashion just five minutes later, when man-on-the-match Rooney laid off to Vidic who smashed a stunning shot past Friedel. The Serbian will have scored no better goal in has career than this.

In total this was a hugely satisfactory victory over the newly in-form Villains, with Michael Carrick, Rooney, Nani and Dimitar Berbatov on another level to the visitors. Expansive in midfield, penetrative in attack and – mostly – solid in defence, United laid down a marker for the side’s rivals in the Premier League title race.

Chelsea and Arsenal matched United’s result tonight but United’s five point lead leaves Ferguson’s outfit in control of its own destiny. On the back of a seven match winning run and unbeaten in the Premier League the title is surely now United’s to lose.

Whether it is confidence in his squad or restrictions put in place by the Old Trafford paymasters, Ferguson’s decision not to invest in the winter market has been countered with more than £70 million of deadline-day spending at Chelsea. Even Villa, parsimonious under Randy Learner’s ownership until now, spent big on new forward Bent.

“There has been some amazing buys,” added Ferguson.

“I think there has been a chain reaction from Aston Villa paying £24million for Darren Bent because everybody thinks their player is 24-plus. But you can’t be surprised or amazing because this is the Premier division.”

Match Facts
United – 442 – Van der Sar; O’Shea, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra; Nani, Carrick, Fletcher (Anderson 34), Giggs; Berbatov, Rooney.

Villa – 4411 – Friedel; Walker, Dunne, Collins, Clark; Albrighton (Heskey 69), Makoun, Petrov (Agbonlahor 74), Downing (Reo-Coker 80); Young; Bent.

Attendance – 75,256
Man of the Match – Rooney

Possession: United 50% – 50% Villa
Attempts: 18 – 9
On Target: 2 – 4
Corners: 5 – 5
Fouls: 6 – 6

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  • herbie simms

    We must keep this momentum going into the game against Wolves who are struggling to avoid the drop. A win there and a loss for Arsenal at Newcastle would give us an 8 point lead and the title in the bag. It was some hell at Newcastle where a player(Andy Carroll) was sold to Liverpool and neither the player or the manager (Allan Pardew) did not know the player had already been sold. Mike Ashley just sold him off just like that, took the 35 million and gone. I hope Newcastle can respond by beating Arsenal, although Newcastle have been poor at home this season. SAF must push the team to kill off these lower placed teams. We should not be struggling to beat lowly Wolves.

  • Spike

    Bolluxs
    Wolves will stop us..the others will win except the Bindippers and we will have stinky smelly kegs time again.

  • http://www.theunitedway.co.uk/ Rob

    Happy with the performance and 3 points. I’m expecting a tough game at Wolves but I think we will win.

  • herbie simms

    When the deal went down, as I said, Pardew claimed he woke up in the morning to find out that Carroll was already sold to Liverpool and that Carroll had never requested a transfer. Mike Ashley just pushed Carroll out the door to get that 35 million. Pardew also said that if he knew Carroll was leaving, he would have had a replacement for him in place. But the transfer window closed and it was too late. As for Wolves, they will be pushing for the 3 points, but if we go there and hit them early with 2 first half goals, its all over for them.

    • mongoletsi

      You see the “reply” button? Use it ;o)

      But yeah I agree, we should just go all out and attack at Wolves. They won’t like that!

  • Ashish

    Now that Rooney has scored 2 goals against Villa yesterday…..I am pretty damn sure that he will score again against Wolves.

  • http://none ian

    Wonderful pass from VDS. A few pluses. Rooney took the goals well; Anderson much better; Giggs in one of the best phases of his career; if Nani can just add a bit more consistency he will be a great player. With Gibson gone, I’m sticking pins into O’Shea dolls. He offers so little. Average defensively; a liability against a quality fast winger; adds nothing at all going forwards; passing abysmal. It seems so obvious; Fabio needs games to reach his brother’s level; why was he on the bench?

  • herbie simms

    Those crosses from Valencia on the right wing are a big miss to Rooney. SAF could put Obertan on that right wing and his instructions would be to get those balls into the box and feed Rooney. At least we would still have that pace up front.

    • Mongoletsi

      I agree about Valencia but I fear NikNakHead is incapable of following instructions!!

  • sheesh

    Slightly off topic, but is it true that Chelsea v United could be postponed again if the Rent Boys beat Everton in their cup replay?

    Can anyone clarify this? I would be mightily pissed off if this were true. It’s a fixture I would rather we got out of the way now rather than play them later on (possibly at the end of the season).

  • herbie simms

    You maybe right about Obertan, has really not been of United standard. Hope SAF does sign Alexis Sanchez and he can send Obertan out on loan.