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Premier League

  • 1 February 2011
  • • 20:00
  • • Old Trafford, Manchester
  • Referee: C. Foy
  • • Attendance: 75256

Manchester United 3-1 Aston Villa: Wayne Rooney double & Vidic goal fires warning to title rivals

Manchester United 3-1 Aston Villa: Wayne Rooney double & Vidic goal fires warning to title rivals

League undefeated streak extended to 29 games

Manchester United sent out a warning to their Premier League rivals as a double from Wayne Rooney and a Nemanja Vidic goal saw the Old Trafford side extend their undefeated streak with a comfortable victory over Aston Villa.

The victory keeps the Red Devils five points clear at the top of the table, while defeat for the visitors means they remain in the bottom half.

The home side made ten changes from their weekend FA Cup victory over Southampton, with John O’Shea the only survivor as he started in place of the injured Rafael da Silva in the starting line-up.

Those changes paid dividends after less than one minute when goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar launched a long free kick onto the feet of Rooney, who expertly brought the ball down before rifling an effort into the roof of the Villa goal.

From then on the home, maintained dominance for most of the game and should have had a penalty on the quarter hour mark, when Nani raced in from the right-hand side and was barged to the ground by Richard Dunne, but unfortunately for the Portuguese winger referee Chris Foy waved away the claims for a penalty.

Straight after that incident, the visitors could have got back on level terms as Ashley Young found Darren Bent, but the striker could not find the finish, as his shot from just outside the area went tamely into the arms of Van der Sar in the home goal.  

Midway through the half, United could have extended their lead even further when Nani had a shot from the edge of the area after the Villa defence had failed to clear the ball properly, but Brad Friedel was able to turn the ball round his left hand post for a corner.

With half an hour on the clock, Ryan Giggs was the next to have a strike at the Villa goal with his right foot, but Friedel managed to save again and keep his side from going further behind.

Minutes later, the home side were forced to make a change as Scotland captain Darren Fletcher was forced from the field with a blood injury on his 27th birthday. He was replaced by Anderson in the heart of the home midfield.

United could have got a second goal from a Patrice Evra overlap on the left-hand side, the Frenchman gaining the ball from Giggs before rattling a strike towards Friedel’s goal, who managed to save  at the second attempt to keep the visitors in the game.

Deep into injury time in the first half the home side stretched their lead as Nani crossed from the right directly to Rooney, who slotted away his second goal of the game past the helpless Friedel to put the Red Devils in complete control.

Wayne's win | Rooney double set United on path to victory 

United remained in control for the early stages of the second half, with Villa failing to trouble them until with just over 10 minutes had passed.

But their rare attack would prove to be a fruitful one when Stewart Downing raced down the right, before finding Darren Bent free inside the box, to stroke the visitors back into the game.

That goal only served to wake up the home side, though, as they raced up the park in order to regain their two-goal lead, but as Giggs and Rooney exchanged passes with each other, the veteran midfielder could not find the finish.

They eventually did regain their comfortable advantage minutes later as Villa failed to deal with a corner, which was then crossed into the box from the right side, with Vidic knocking the ball down to Rooney, who unselfishly played the ball back to the Serbian to powered a shot past Friedel.

In an attempt to get back into the game, Aston Villa boss Gerard Houllier decided to bring on both Emile Heskey and Gabriel Agbonlahor for Mark Albrighton and Stiliyan Petrov as they went in search of the goals that would snatch a point from the league leaders.

With quarter of an hour left, Rooney raced onto a long ball from the right and as he bore down on Friedel looking to complete his hat-trick, Dunne managed to get a foot to the ball before the United hitman could seal a treble.

The home side had an excellent chance to extend their lead, Nani firstly had a chance which was saved by Friedel, but the rebound landed at the feet of Dimitar Berbatov.

But as the home supporters were ready to rise off their seats to acclaim the Bulgarian, his strike went over the bar and into those supporters.

Rooney should have claimed his hat-trick in the closing stages when he gathered possession at the edge of the area, but unfortunately for the England striker, Friedel managed to dive to his left side and bat the ball away from danger.

Sir Alex Ferguson’s side managed to see the rest of the game out and maintain advantage at the top of the Premier League, extending their undefeated streak to a total of 29 league games.

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