Manchester United 4 Hull City 0: match report
Wayne Rooney scored all four goals as Manchester United claimed top spot in the Premier League against Hull City as Old Trafford once more rang out to chants against the club's owners, the Glazer family. United warmed up for the Carling Cup semi-final second-leg against Manchester City on Wednesday by making easy work of relegation-threatened Hull. But despite the impressive performance by the champions, vocal protests against the Glazers, who have taken the club's debt beyond £700m, provided a noisy subtext to the performance on the pitch. With Rio Ferdinand restored to the team for the first time since a back injury forced him out of action last October, United rarely looked troubled by the visitors. And having floated the possibility of resting Rooney for this game during his pre-match press conference on Friday, Ferguson opted instead to field the England forward from the start. The United manager had recently claimed that Rooney and Michael Owen were incompatible as a strike-partnership, despite their success as a pairing on the international scene, but the pair were named together against Hull. And both players seemed intent on proving a point to Ferguson as they pulled the Hull back four all over the final third. Within eight minutes, Rooney had put United ahead when he reacted quickest to goalkeeper Boaz Myhill's parried save from Paul Scholes's long-range strike. Rooney was everywhere, ably supported by Owen, who was making only his fifth start of the season following his free transfer summer move from Newcastle. The two forwards linked brilliantly on 25 minutes before Hull defender Andy Dawson produced a crucial block to prevent Owen from doubling United's lead. Owen then had a close range volley saved by Myhill before Rooney fired a free-kick wide from 20 yards on 33 minutes. But the best example of Rooney and Owen's understanding came on the stroke of half-time, when the duo played a one-two between themselves before Owen was denied by Myhill again. Rooney and Owen continued to impress in the second-half, as did the much-maligned Portuguese winger Nani, but while Owen could not find the goal his performance merited, Rooney deservedly grabbed three more goals. His second goal came on 83 minutes when he latched on to a Darron Gibson pass before firing past Myhill from 12 yards. And he completed his hat-trick with a powerful header from Nani's 86th-minute cross. He wasn't finished there, however, and he claimed his fourth goal in stoppage time by scoring from six yards past the helpless Myhill.
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