30/12/2009 21:46, Report by Ben Hibbs
United 5 Wigan 0
clever for Maynor Figueroa, nutmegging the Latics full-back before beating Kirkland from a tight angle, only to see a wondergoal denied by the inside of the post. On a perilously cold Manchester night, Rooney was providing a bit of warmth.
The goal that United, and Rooney, so richly deserved arrived on 28 minutes following a well-worked move. Wes Brown broke out of defence and fed a pass to Valencia on the right. Ever-keen to advance, Rafael overlapped and received the ball, firing in a vicious cross that Rooney toed past Kirkland. United’s second arrived just four minutes later with another fine attack. Berbatov’s beautiful outside-of-the-boot pass found Valencia in space wide on the right. The obvious pass was to pick out Rooney’s run into the area, but the Ecuadorian instead opted to cut the ball back to Carrick lurking on the edge of the box, and United’s no.16 calmly side-footed the ball home to make it 2-0.
The third goal came on the stroke of half-time and was just reward for Rafael’s outstanding display. United were patient in the approach play, and the Brazilian’s forward run was well picked out by Fletcher. Rafael did well to keep the ball in his possession surrounded by a posse of Wigan defenders, before striking a left-footed shot into the far corner. His celebration was a touching show of brotherly love, running to the dug-out and pointing to Fabio on the bench.
Wigan have been on the end of some hammerings this term. They conceded nine goals at Tottenham, five at home to United and four each against Arsenal and Portsmouth. Perhaps it was an impending sense of doom that forced Kirkland off at half-time, replaced by Michael Pollitt. Within two minutes the new man was forced into a save from the irrepressible Rooney, who struck powerfully with his left foot. And within five minutes he continued where Kirkland left off - unable to halt United's relentless attack. United's fourth was another goal created on the right flank, Valencia crossing and Berbatov poking home with his right foot.