Manchester United 3-0 Aston Villa
Manchester United wrapped up a 20th league title in convincing style after Robin van Persie's first-half hat-trick sank Aston Villa.
The Dutch striker has been United's stellar striker for much of the season before labouring of late after two goals in his previous seven Premier League appearances.
But the £24m summer signing returned to form in spectacular fashion to secure the silverware with four games to spare.
Defeat for Manchester City at Tottenham on Sunday meant that United knew before kick-off that victory would be enough for them to cross the line.
Despite an improved second-half showing by Villa, now three points above the relegation zone with four games remaining, that outcome never seriously looked in doubt.
United boss Sir Alex Ferguson has now won the Premier League 13 times but the manner and margin of this triumph, a year after seeing the title wrenched from his grasp by City with the last kick of the season, should give him as much satisfaction as his first success.
His side were already 13 points clear before kick-off, and there was an air of expectation bordering on euphoria at Old Trafford.
If there were any nerves too, they went out of the window when Van Persie opened the scoring after 83 seconds.
A move started by Wayne Rooney ended with Ryan Giggs knocking Antonio Valencia's cross into the path of the Dutchman, who converted from two yards out.
It was an ominous start for a defence looking as vulnerable as Villa's, and more chances swiftly followed.
The visitors escaped when Van Persie headed over and Rafael fired against the post but a second goal was not far away.
Villa had just started to gain a foothold in the match, with Christian Benteke firing just over after a quick break, when United struck again in devastating fashion after 13 minutes.
This time it was the home side on the counter-attack, and Rooney's searching ball found Van Persie running to meet it on the edge of the area to smash an unstoppable left-footed volley past Brad Guzan.
It was a world-class strike worthy of putting the seal on a title that has been in United's grasp since early February, when they first moved 12 points clear, but he and United did not stop there.
Giggs ran on to Shinji Kagawa's pass and had a chance to let fly himself, but instead set up Van Persie, who steadied himself before firing high into the roof of the net.
His 31-minute hat-trick not only put the win and the title beyond doubt, it also moved the summer signing to 24 league goals - one above Liverpool's Luis Suarez as the Premier League's leading scorer.
At that stage Villa's prime concern was damage limitation, especially because goal difference could yet play a part in their fight for survival, but to their credit they regrouped for the second half.
It took a goal-line clearance from Van Persie to stop Andreas Weimann from pulling a goal back and David De Gea was called into action to keep out Benteke's low shot.
United's players could be forgiven for having their minds on the parade to come at the final whistle, and even with the encouragement of Ferguson on the touchline, they failed to hit the heights they had managed before half-time.
Villa went close again when Weimann curled an effort wide from the right of the box and, even when United did respond, Kagawa wasted an easy chance to make it 4-0 when he fired over with the goal gaping.
The spirit shown by Paul Lambert's side bodes well for their battle against the drop.
But it only succeeded in taking the edge off the celebrations from the home fans in the stands during the second half.
They made up for it at the final whistle when the ground let out a collective roar of delight.
Ferguson embraced his players as they completed a lap of honour - one they will repeat on 12 May after their game against Swansea when they will be handed the Premier League trophy.
- 01 De Gea
- 02 Rafael
- 03 Evra Booked
- 04 Jones
- 06 Evans
- 07 Valencia
- 11 Giggs
- 16 Carrick
- 26 Kagawa
- 10 Rooney (Welbeck - 72' )
- 20 Van Persie
- 13 Lindegaard
- 05 Ferdinand
- 28 Buttner
- 17 Nani
- 23 Cleverley
- 14 Hernandez
- 19 Welbeck
- 22 Guzan
- 04 Vlaar
- 27 Bennett (Clark - 80' )
- 32 Baker
- 34 Lowton
- 10 N'Zogbia (El Ahmadi - 46' )
- 15 Westwood
- 16 Delph
- 11 Agbonlahor
- 20 Benteke
- 26 Weimann
- 01 Given
- 06 Clark
- 08 El Ahmadi
- 14 Holman
- 18 Sylla
- 09 Bent
- 21 Bowery
Live Text Commentary
Full Time The referee blows for the end of the match.88:20
Ryan Giggs takes a inswinging corner from the right by-line to the near post.87:35
Ryan Giggs takes a short corner.86:10
Phil Jones challenges Fabian Delph unfairly and gives away a free kick. Shot on goal comes in from Karim El Ahmadi from the free kick, save made by David De Gea.85:42
Robin van Persie is flagged offside by the assistant referee. Bradley Guzan takes the indirect free kick.79:33 Substitution
Substitution Ciaran Clark joins the action as a substitute, replacing Joe Bennett.76:32
Shinji Kagawa produces a left-footed shot from close in that goes over the bar.74:18
Karim El Ahmadi takes a shot. Save by David De Gea. Outswinging corner taken right-footed by Ashley Westwood from the right by-line.71:28
Rafael Da Silva concedes a free kick for a foul on Gabriel Agbonlahor. Joe Bennett takes the free kick.70:08 Substitution
Substitution Danny Welbeck is brought on as a substitute for Wayne Rooney.70:08
Wayne Rooney takes the inswinging corner, Jonny Evans takes a shot. Clearance made by Joe Bennett.62:58
Wayne Rooney takes a shot from just inside the penalty box which clears the bar.62:45
Drilled right-footed shot by Wayne Rooney. Blocked by Matthew Lowton.59:57
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Robin van Persie by Nathan Baker. Free kick taken by Wayne Rooney.58:01
The assistant referee flags for offside against Robin van Persie. Bradley Guzan restarts play with the free kick.57:25
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Jonny Evans by Gabriel Agbonlahor. Jonny Evans takes the indirect free kick.56:51
The ball is swung over by Matthew Lowton, comfortable save by David De Gea.56:42
The ball is swung over by Karim El Ahmadi, Wayne Rooney makes a clearance.52:35
Christian Benteke takes a shot. Save made by David De Gea.51:59
Patrice Evra gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Matthew Lowton. Free kick taken by Matthew Lowton.
The ball is delivered by Andreas Weimann, clearance by Phil Jones.48:49
Ashley Westwood takes the inswinging corner, Andreas Weimann takes a shot. Blocked by Robin van Persie.48:28
The ball is swung over by Andreas Weimann, save made by David De Gea.46:45
Corner taken by Ryan Giggs.46:20
Corner taken left-footed by Ryan Giggs to the near post, Matthew Lowton manages to make a clearance.45:01
The second half kicks off.45:01 Substitution
Substitution Charles N'Zogbia goes off and Karim El Ahmadi comes on.45:00 +2:08 Half time
Half Time The first half comes to an end.45:00 +0:31
Free kick awarded for a foul by Antonio Valencia on Joe Bennett. Free kick taken by Joe Bennett.44:48
Shot from just outside the box by Ron Vlaar goes over the target.43:44
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Fabian Delph by Robin van Persie. Joe Bennett restarts play with the free kick.41:33
Gabriel Agbonlahor produces a left-footed shot from the edge of the box and misses to the left of the goal.41:01
The ball is crossed by Ryan Giggs, save by Bradley Guzan.38:14
Unfair challenge on Charles N'Zogbia by Patrice Evra results in a free kick. Free kick crossed by Ashley Westwood, save by David De Gea.34:10
The assistant referee signals for offside against Antonio Valencia. Joe Bennett restarts play with the free kick.32:18
Ryan Giggs provided the assist for the goal.32:18 Goal scored
Goal! - Robin van Persie - Man Utd 3 - 0 A Villa Goal scored by Robin van Persie from close in to the top left corner of the goal. Man Utd 3-0 Aston Villa.30:17
Charles N'Zogbia takes a outswinging corner. Fabian Delph takes a shot. Wayne Rooney gets a block in.28:59
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Antonio Valencia by Joe Bennett. Indirect free kick taken by Michael Carrick.27:06
The free kick is swung in right-footed by Ashley Westwood, Phil Jones makes a clearance.27:06 Booking
Booking Patrice Evra is given a yellow card.26:36
Foul by Patrice Evra on Charles N'Zogbia, free kick awarded.25:51
Joe Bennett sends in a cross, save by David De Gea.22:37
Shinji Kagawa crosses the ball, Ron Vlaar makes a clearance.21:36
The ball is delivered by Joe Bennett.17:51
Ryan Giggs concedes a free kick for a foul on Gabriel Agbonlahor. Fabian Delph restarts play with the free kick.17:32
Gabriel Agbonlahor challenges Rafael Da Silva unfairly and gives away a free kick. Indirect free kick taken by Rafael Da Silva.16:52
The official flags Ryan Giggs offside. Indirect free kick taken by Matthew Lowton.15:20
Michael Carrick produces a right-footed shot from long distance which goes wide left of the goal.13:33
Unfair challenge on Gabriel Agbonlahor by Rafael Da Silva results in a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Joe Bennett.12:19
Assist on the goal came from Wayne Rooney.12:19 Goal scored
Goal! - Robin van Persie - Man Utd 2 - 0 A Villa Robin van Persie fires in a goal from just outside the box to the bottom right corner of the goal. Man Utd 2-0 Aston Villa.11:03
Shot from deep inside the area by Christian Benteke clears the bar.9:23
Rafael Da Silva takes a shot from just outaide the penalty area and strikes the post.7:31
Andreas Weimann crosses the ball.6:10
Foul by Fabian Delph on Antonio Valencia, free kick awarded. Ryan Giggs delivers the ball from the free kick right-footed from right wing, Bradley Guzan makes a comfortable save.2:43
Antonio Valencia crosses the ball, Robin van Persie produces a left-footed shot from close in that clears the bar.1:21
Assist by Ryan Giggs.1:21 Goal scored
Goal! - Robin van Persie - Man Utd 1 - 0 A Villa Robin van Persie finds the net with a goal from inside the six-yard box low into the middle of the goal. Man Utd 1-0 Aston Villa.1:17
The ball is delivered by Rafael Da Silva,0:33
Gabriel Agbonlahor gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Rafael Da Silva. Rafael Da Silva takes the direct free kick.0:16
Wayne Rooney concedes a free kick for a foul on Fabian Delph. Fabian Delph restarts play with the free kick.0:00
The ref blows the whistle to begin the match.
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