Manchester United was treated to a New Year’s Day present as the Red Devils eased past Wigan 4-0 at DW Stadium to stay seven points clear of Manchester City at the top of the Premier League.
The hosts lacked the intensity required to beat Sir Alex Ferguson’s side and were picked off by the brilliance of Robin van Persie and Chicharito. The Mexican got two goals to add to his last minute winner on Boxing Day, while van Perise was imperious throughout.
Even before Chicharito scored the opening goal in the 35thminute, the striker had the ball in net. Loitering on the shoulder of the last defender, he was found in behind by van Persie and easily beat Ali Al Habsi but was correctly ruled out for offside.
That was to serve as a warning of things to come, with United scoring twice in eight minutes to seal the points before the break. Referee Andre Marriner played an advantage to allow the visitors to continue attacking, and Jonny Evans found Patrice Evra, whose shot across goal was criminally parried back into the six-yard box by Al Habsi. Chicharito poached home ahead of Honduran Maynor Figueroa to give United the lead.
Despite three players falling over in the build-up to the second, ultimately killer, goal, there was very little Wigan could have done to stop van Persie. In the 43rd minute, Chicharito capitalized on two slips to find the Dutchman in the box. Still with a lot to do, the striker surprisingly brought the ball onto his right foot before guiding an exquisite finish into the corner
The one occasion Wigan looked like scoring, United was relatively fortunate to keep their 2-0 lead. Franco Di Santo’s cross come shot found its way to Arouna Kone at the back post. He crashed it into the net only to be flagged for offside.
That moment woke the league leaders up briefly. Rafael forced his way into the final third and was brought down 25 yards from goal. Van Persie stepped up, saw his shot blocked, but Chicharito was there again to pounce and drive his second goal past Al Habsi, who had no chance, before van Persie finished the rout late on.