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United moved to the brink of the Barclays Premier League title with a pulsating second-half performance and two wonderful goals at Wigan.
Man of the moment Carlos Tevez came off the bench to equalise before midfield maestro Michael Carrick sealed a superb away win for the champions with five minutes remaining. This rally put Steve Bruce’s plucky Wigan side to the sword and no doubt destroyed the morale of a certain club on Merseyside, who’d no doubt been buoyed by Hugo Rodallega’s shock opener for the home team.
Sir Alex made five changes to his derby-winning side, the return of John O’Shea, Anderson, Michael Carrick, Paul Scholes and Wayne Rooney suggesting this eleven was picked with the Reds’ next midweek fixure in mind, the Champions League final.
United were given an early fright when Antonio Valencia’s searing pace enabled him to break between Jonny Evans and Nemanja Vidic close to the halfway line and carry the ball menacingly into the box. Fortunately, the Reds’ senior centre-back made a sufficiently quick recovery to put the Ecuadorian off his stride, Valencia chipping his shot off target from six yards instead of beating Edwin van der Sar.
The Reds crafted two better opportunities to take the lead in quick succession around the 10th minute, with Dimitar Berbatov involved in both. First the Bulgarian laid on a peach of a right-wing cross that Rooney, so often the scourge of Wigan, unfortunately headed wide. Then Berbatov fed Cristiano Ronaldo and his low centre, again from the right, was steered agonisingly over the top left corner by Carrick.
Charles N’Zogbia succeeded where Valencia had failed by forcing a fine save from van der Sar; the Dutchman diving to his right to tip away the former Newcastle midfielder’s curling free-kick. Van der Sar’s next