United looked like a team in a hurry to get their hands on the Premier League trophy last night and an exceptional first half performance by Van Persie decided its destination in emphatic style.
Lambert’s attacking side looked vulnerable from the off as United poured forward. Rooney, from his new midfield position, passed the ball to Valencia on the right wing. Valencia passed back to Da Silva, whose ball to the back post was transformed by the seemingly ageless Giggs into a well judged cut-back across the goal that was almost impossible for Van Persie not to net.
Within seconds, Van Persie volleyed another chance over the bar. He then headed back to Giggs but Vlaar succeeded in clearing it. Rafael kept the visitors under pressure when he hit the post. With ten minutes played, it was all about the champions elect and Lambert’s Lions must have fear another mauling.
The best chance of the game for the visitors fell to Benteke, who worked hard to create an opening but squandered his chance to equalise.
A mere minute later, it was 2-0 when Rooney’s perfect pass found the flying Dutchman, whose clever play and sensational skill allowed him to net a contender for goal of the season.
To be fair to Villa, they battled on and enjoyed their best spell of the game after United’s second. Bennett had a half chance but his cross was casually claimed by De Gea. After an Evra foul on N’Zogbia, the visitors did well to win a corner and looked threatening but Evans put paid to their efforts when he blocked the ball in.
In the 33rd minute, another assist from Giggs allowed Van Persie to net his third: Giggs ran on to a great pass from Kagawa, taking the ball into the area and passing a little behind Van Persie, who took the ball round Guzan and put it in off the post.
Benteke fired wide in the 43nd minutes as valiant Villa fans optimistically sang, ‘4-3, we’re gonna win 4-3!’ It looked unlikely, however, and, as the first half drew to its close, the Villans were left with a mountain to climb in their search for safety.
With El Ahmadi on for N’Zogbia, the second half got underway. Successive corners for the home side suggested their hunger for goals hadn’t been quelled by the interval but there was a glimmer of hope for the claret and blue army when De Gea flapped at a Weimann cross and afforded the visiting team a corner. Baker nodded the ball across goal and Weimann’s header seemed to have beaten De Gea but the man of the hour Van Persie was on hand to make a goal-line clearance.
Despite his team’s 20th title being virtually in the bag, Fergie looked on furiously from the touchline as El Ahmadi tested De Gea with a volley from 30 yards out before Benteke collected a pass and forces De Gea to make a low, diving save.
Kagawa could then have made Villa’s goal difference even worse in the 77th minute but, thankfully, he missed the target, firing high and wide.
All that remained was the final whistle and the scenes of celebration as United claimed their 20th league title, leaving the visitors’ eyes firmly focused on the other end of the table.