Thursday, December 31, 2009

Manchester United 5-0 Wigan Athletic

Manchester United moved to within two points of Premier League leaders Chelsea with a resounding 5-0 win over Wigan Athletic at Old Trafford.

Wayne Rooney set the champions on their way on the half-hour mark, while Michael Carrick and Rafael da Silva extended their lead before half-time.
Wigan suffered a further blow as goalkeeper Chris Kirkland was forced off at half-time with a recurrence of his long-standing back injury. Michael Pollitt replaced the England 'keeper, though was unable to stem the tide as Dimitar Berbatov and the excellent Luis Valencia added further goals in the second half.
Though outplayed, Wigan did have chances in the second half, though Charles N'Zogbia fired wide when through on goal and Hugo Rodallega saw a volley smartly saved by Tomasz Kuszczak.
United are now move to 43 points from 20 games, two points behind Chelsea and two ahead of Arsenal, who have a game in hand. Wigan slip to 16th, just one point clear of the relegation zone.
Roberto Martinez's side have been both excellent and woeful on their travels this season, and after they almost shot themselves in the foot as early in the third minute, one suspected this would not be one of their good days. Hendry Thomas presented the ball straight to Valencia on the right, and was fortunate that the Ecuadorian hit a tame shot straight at Kirkland.
The Wigan defence made a fine fist of repelling United's initial probing attacks, with Titus Bramble in particular distinguishing himself with a fine last-ditch tackle on Berbatov.
United were dominating the midfield battles, however, and after Rooney struck the inside of the post with a magnificent effort from the tightest of angles, it was only a matter of time before Wigan's back four succumbed to the immense pressure.

Rooney had hitherto been the biggest thorn in the visitors' side, and it was he who opened the scoring with a deft volley on the half-hour mark. Valencia sent the overlapping Rafael clear on the right, and Rooney timed his run at the near post to perfection to guide the ball past Kirkland.
United doubled their lead three minutes later. This time Valencia provided a fine pull-back to Carrick on the edge of the area, and the England midfielder coolly side-footed the ball low into the corner.
Thomas then raised a few eyebrows around Old Trafford with an audacious effort from 40 yards that nonetheless had Kuszczak flinging himself across his goal, though United continued to dominate possession, and scored their third just before half-time as Rafael showed excellent persistence to bustle past Bramble's challenge in the area and slot the ball low past Kirkland.
Wigan did almost grab a goal back immediately as Jordi Gomez whistled a shot just past the post, though normal service was resumed after the break as United's onslaught continued.
The fourth goal came five minutes into the second half as Berbatov finally got himself on the scoresheet with neat footwork and a fine finish under pressure in the area.
Rooney then hit the bar with a header, before N'Zogbia and Rodallega both passed up chances to give their supporters something to cheer.
It was left to Wigan old boy Valencia to round off the scoring with 15 minutes to go, though the pass from Rooney that released him was a gem. Valencia sprinted in from the right to run onto Rooney's diagonal ball, and dinked the ball neatly over the onrushing Pollitt.

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