Wigan Athletic 0 Manchester United 5: match report
Wayne Rooney and a strike apiece from Dimitar Berbatov, Owen and Nani banished the doubts that United lack cutting edge following Cristiano Ronaldo's sale to Real Madrid. The victory did not come without difficulties for United, however, and Ferguson's men appeared to be on course for another frustrating ninety minutes as they missed a series of first-half chances. Rooney and Berbatov both spurned clear chances, with Berbatov in particular fluffing a golden opportunity when he headed into goalkeeper Chris Kirkland's hands from six yards. Paul Scholes uncharacteristically blazed over with a free shot from 20 yards and Darren Fletcher saw a close range effort blocked by Titus Bramble. Just like Burnley last Wednesday, however, Wigan possessed the ability to hurt United on the counter-attack and the champions endured some nervous moments as the home side went in search of an opener. Only a crucial Patrice Evra challenge ten yards from goal denied Hugo Rodallega a clear strike at goal and goalkeeper Ben Foster was forced to produce a stunning save from Jason Koumas after the Welsh midfielder had embarrassed Gary Neville with a swift turn midway inside the United half. Rooney's opening goal injected United with new-found confidence, however, and the result was never in doubt once they had taken the lead. The goal came from good work by Antonio Valencia, United's £17m summer signing from Wigan, who delivered a perfect cross from which Rooney headed past Kirkland from six yards. Rodallega almost equalised within a minute when Foster produced a stunning save from the Colombian's header, but the game was over as a contest once Berbatov doubled United's lead on 58 minutes. The Bulgarian, teed up by Paul Scholes, bundled the ball into the net for his first goal since April after initially clipping the ball over Kirkland's head. Berbatov's relief was obvious with his celebration, but the 2-0 lead lifted all of the United players and Rooney's second goal, a deflected strike off the right leg of Mario Melchiot, put United out of sight. All it needed to cap the victory was a goal from substitute Owen and the former Liverpool forward delivered when he guided a left-foot shot into the far corner after being released by Nani, who netted a stoppage time free-kick to make it 5-0.