United 4 Hull 0
WAYNE Rooney scored all four against Hull to fire Manchester United to the top of the Premier League. The forward scored after just seven minutes, latching onto the rebound after Paul Scholes' long-range piledriver was saved, before three late goals sealed the victory. The quadruple takes Rooney's tally for the season to 20. The Reds are now two points clear at the summit, but Arsenal and Chelsea have one and two games in hand respectively. The performance certainly confirmed Rooney's well-being ahead of the powderkeg Carling Cup decider with Manchester City next Wednesday and fuels Sir Alex Ferguson's belief his side are on the verge of something big. Victory and status are just part of the story at Old Trafford just now though. After using a large chunk of his programme notes to plead for unity in the stands, Sir Alex Ferguson must have been dismayed at the volume and regularity of the anti-Glazer chants that echoed around the ground. Ironically, it generated an atmosphere sometimes missing on days like this. But it is going to take more than mere words from Ferguson, as revered as he is at United, to ease the growing tension at debts that have now shot through the £700million barrier. It will take more than one decent display to change the almost universal negative opinion of Nani. But the winger has pace, balance and an undeniably, some would say admirable, confidence. Awareness and accuracy have been the most obvious weaknesses. Against Hull though, he looked up and when an early ball was on, he generally played it. It was Nani who played an excellent reverse pass through for Michael Owen's best chance on only his fifth league start of the campaign, only for former Manchester United defender Paul McShane to divert it back to Boaz Myhill with a despairing tackle. Rooney strike That was the first of numerous chances for the hosts, only one of which had found the net. There have been plenty of times down the years when a Scholes screamer has left a hapless goalkeeper grasping fresh air.Age has lessened those instances but the veteran midfielder still packs a powerful punch and Myhill could only turn away the seventh-minute effort that had been teed up by Park Ji-sung. In his new advanced role, Rooney has been a revelation this season, only Patrice Evra providing any competition for consistency in Reds ranks. The England striker was on to the loose ball in a flash and drilled his second touch beyond Myhill, the Hull hero at Tottenham last week. Half-time cost United their fluency. Rooney continued to battle hard and was just off target with a 25-yard shot and Park was set up by Nani only to completely mess up his shot. Owen was eventually replaced by Dimitar Berbatov with 17 minutes left, having done a passable job without really stating his England case in a manner that would have made Fabio Capello pause for thought back home in Italy as he recovers from knee surgery. But from the hosts it was uninspiring fare and they looked increasingly vulnerable to the counter-attack. Substitute Kamel Ghilas almost got the equaliser too when he turned on to McShane's cross, only to see his shot bobble agonisingly wide of the far post. Nerves would have been settled if Gibson had spotted Rooney on his own and played a pass to the striker rather than chipping on to the roof of Myhill's net from 40 yards after Nani had sprung the offside trap. Rooney was clearly unhappy with the Irishman so he decided to take command himself. When Myhill fumbled Nani's free-kick on to his own bar and then flattened Andy Dawson, he created mayhem in the Hull box which Rooney exploited with a typically brutal finish. The England man then gleefully nodded home a Nani cross as the Portugal wide-man continued to play an excellent supporting role to the main act. Hull were on their knees before Rooney struck again in stoppage time. The home fans roared their approval and chanted their hero's name. At least it made a change from the Glazers. What is your verdict on the action? Have your say.
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