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Premier League

  • 18 March 2012
  • • 13:30
  • • Molineux Stadium, Wolverhampton, West Midlands
  • Referee: A. Taylor
  • • Attendance: 27494
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Wolves 0-5 Manchester United: Chicharito double wraps up dominant win as champions extend Premier League advantage

The Mexican grabbed a brace to cap off a dominant performance after Jonny Evans, Antonio Valencia and Danny Welbeck had all but sealed three points in the first half

Manchester United raced four points clear at the top of the Premier League and sent a desperately poor Wolves side to the bottom of the table following a 5-0 thrashing at Molineux.

United were already a goal to the good after Jonny Evans opened the scoring when Ronald Zubar was sent off for a second yellow card shortly before the end of the first half.

Antonio Valencia and Danny Welbeck made it 3-0 with a quickfire double before the break and Javier Hernandez's second-half brace put a gloss on a dominant performance which has put further pressure on title rivals Manchester City to beat Chelsea on Wednesday evening.

Wolves had held their own until Zubar's red card but were woeful thereafter. Terry Connor's team have now suffered three consecutive defeats and find their place in the top flight under serious threat.

Jamie O'Hara was missing from the Wolves squad, with Kevin Foley replacing him in midfield. David Davis retained his place in the side after making his debut in the 2-0 loss to Blackburn Rovers.

Sir Alex Ferguson made two changes to the Manchester United side that beat West Brom to go top of the Premier League last weekend. Valencia, who made his first start since February, replaced Ashley Young out wide, while Rafael came in for Phil Jones at right-back.

The two reintroduced faces combined to create the first real chance of the match in the ninth minute. Valencia wriggled into space in the inside right channel and slipped a through ball into the path of Rafael, who had dashed into the penalty area. The Brazilian slid a low pass across goal that just evaded Hernandez and Welbeck in the six-yard box.

The fact Wolves seemed to have weathered the early storm when they conceded the opening goal in the 21st minute will have made it even more difficult for Connor to take. Wayne Rooney's corner from the left was centred at the back post by Michael Carrick, and Evans was on hand to steer the ball beyond Wayne Hennessey for his first Manchester United goal.

Steven Fletcher had headed narrowly wide shortly before Evans' opener and Wolves did not look overwhelmed by United, although David De Gea remained largely untested. But the hosts were the architects of their own downfall when Zubar followed up a late challenge on Rooney with a similarly mistimed slide on Welbeck that earned him a second yellow card.

It did not take Manchester United long to seal the deal. First, Rooney initiated a devastating counter-attack following a Wolves corner by chipping a pass into the path of Valencia, who raided down the right wing. The Ecuador international had Welbeck for company when he reached the penalty area but didn't need him as he thumped his finish across Hennessey.

Minutes later Valencia was more generous when, receiving a wonderful pass from Carrick near the touchline, he was left with the simple task of rolling a low cross into the feet of Welbeck. The 21-year-old was left totally unmarked after dropping into space ten yards out and sent a first-time finish into the bottom corner.

This match, then, was not much of a contest heading into the second half. After Hennessey had palmed away Rooney's shot the resulting corner was played out to Rafael. The right-back picked out an entirely unmarked Hernandez, who nodded in from close range.

The goal was not a significant one given that the outcome of this match had long been decided but the nature of it will have Connor questioning exactly what impact he is capable of having on this team that has such a high relegation threat looming over them.

The next blow was more to do with the quality of the Manchester United attack. Valencia broke into the box after playing a superb one-two with Welbeck, who flicked a pass back in to the winger's path. He smartly ignored the congested goalmouth and stood up a cross that Hernandez lashed home at the back post.

Just before the fifth goal Michael Kightly had been introduced for the home side and he did, to his credit, have some impact. First, the winger tested De Gea from the edge of the box before delivering a free-kick from the right that somehow wasn't bundled in by an orange shirt.

Only a good save from Hennessey prevented Welbeck from making it six as United strolled to an easy three points and piled the pressure on title rivals Manchester City, who now face immediate pressure to bounce back from their defeat at Swansea last Sunday and close the gap at the top to a single point.

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