Premier League: Manchester United 3 Aston Villa 0
By Football News
A Robin van Persie hat-trick fired Manchester United to a 20th league title with a 3-0 victory over Aston Villa at Old Trafford.
Van Persie got his first in just the second minute when he turned home inside the six-yard box and doubled United's lead in the 13th minute with an unstoppable volley.
The Dutchman completed his hat-trick just after the half-hour and the Manchester club saw out the second half to secure the title over local rivals City.
Alex Ferguson had to make do without captain Nemanja Vidic due to injury, while Rio Ferdinand was only fit enough for a place on the bench. Gabriel Agbonlahor returned to the visitor's attack after recovering from a groin problem.
United made the perfect start as Wayne Rooney played a sublime cross-field ball to Antonio Valencia. He laid the ball back to Rafael whose deep cross was met by Ryan Giggs and the veteran played a neat ball across goal that was tapped in at the back post by Van Persie.
It almost got immediately better for United. Valencia was once again free on the right-hand side, his ball into the box was met by Van Persie but he guided his volley just over the crossbar.
A moment of sheer genius from United doubled their lead. Rooney picked up the ball just short of the half-way line and played a terrific ball over the Aston Villa defence and was met with a stunning first-time volley from Van Persie to send Old Trafford into raptures.
United were rampant and the Netherlands international completed his hat-trick in the 32nd minute. Shinji Kagawa's through ball was met on the left side of the area by Ryan Giggs, he centred for Van Persie who rounded Brad Guzan and fired high into the goal.
The visitors started the second half the better of the two sides. Rafael was on hand to make a clearance when David de Gea spilt a cross from the right-hand side.
From the resulting corner an Agbonlahor header forced a terrific reflex save from the Spanish goalkeeper who dived at full stretch to deny the forward.
In the 52nd minute, Rooney was caught in possession deep in his own half, Christian Benteke picked up the ball and forced another smart save from De Gea who parried the Belgian's 20-yard effort away.
Rooney almost scored after neat interplay between Patrice Evra and Van Persie on the edge of the area but the England international skied his effort over the bar.
Jonny Evans came close to adding a fourth goal, but his header from a Wayne Rooney corner was cleared off the line.
De Gea once more proved his worth to United when Stephen Ireland's speculative 25-yard effort was destined to dip under the crossbar before the Spanish shot-stopper produced a terrific save.
Kagawa then went close again for United, Rafael found substitute Danny Welbeck who crossed from the right-side of the box, the Japanese took a neat touch to make space in the area but he fired his shot high and wide of the goal.
United saw out the closing stages amid joyous scenes in the crowd as they secured the title.