28/01/2009 21:55, Report by Gemma Thompson
WBA 0 United 5
A scintillating display of attacking football ensured United's biggest away win of the season on a night when the Reds set a new defensive record of eleven clean sheets.
Goals from Dimitar Berbatov, Carlos Tevez, Nemanja Vidic and a brace from Cristiano Ronaldo sealed a 5-0 victory over West Brom at The Hawthorns , who had their skipper Paul Robinson sent-off just before half-time.
At the other end, Edwin van der Sar kept his eleventh consecutive clean sheet to break Chelsea’s 2004/05 Premier League record and help the Reds move three points clear of Liverpool at the top of the table.
Reports going into the game suggested United could be without as many as twelve first team squad members. While it was certainly true to say they were missing some key performers, including Wayne Rooney, Patrice Evra and Anderson, they were boosted by the return of Rio Ferdinand at the heart of the defence for the first time since the Club World Cup final. Ji-sung Park was also available after a hamstring strain had kept him out of the FA Cup win over Spurs, as was Cristiano Ronaldo who had been forced off with a virus in the latter stages of the cup win. Wes Brown, meanwhile, was named on the bench following three months on the sidelines with an ankle problem.
West Brom had injury problems of their own with ex-Red and Baggies’ skipper Jonathan Greening (knee), striker Luke Moore (hamstring) and defenders Leon Barnett (hamstring) and Jonas Olsson (knee) all out.
Having been forced to wait an additional half an hour after the kick-off was delayed due to traffic congestion, both teams seemed keen to make up for lost time. Just two minutes in, Park found Berbatov, coming in from the right touchline, but the Bulgarian’s daisycutter was straight into the grateful arms of Scott Carson.