Hernandez double moves United clear
Wolves, Everton, Villa win; Bolton-Newcastle draw
Striker Javier Hernandez’s well-taken double on a rare Premier League start helped leaders Manchester United move four points clear with a 4-0 romp at Wigan Athletic on Saturday.
With second placed Arsenal preparing for Sunday’s League Cup final against Birmingham, Sir Alex Ferguson’s side were able to cement first place thanks to goals from Hernandez, Rooney and Fabio Da Silva at the DW Stadium.After United drew a blank in the midweek 0-0 Champions League draw with Olympique Marseille, manager Alex Ferguson restored Mexican international Hernandez to the lineup alongside Wayne Rooney, with Dimitar Berbatov relegated to the bench.
On a day when the five sides below United were not playing, including second-placed Arsenal, who face Birmingham City in the League Cup final on Sunday, Hernandez justified his selection with his eighth and nine league goals of an impressive first season in English football.
Hernandez has started just eight of United’s 27 league games, with 10 more appearances from the bench.
“We played really well in the second half and had some fantastic opportunities. We opened them up time and time again and could have scored more. But I’m happy with 4-0,” Ferguson told MUTV.
“We have a big week ahead and it’s a good start,” added the Scot, whose side play away at fifth-placed Chelsea on Tuesday and then travel to Anfield to play bitter rivals Liverpool next Sunday.
With 11 matches to play, United have 60 points. Arsenal are on 56 while third-placed Manchester City, who host Fulham on Sunday, are on 49.
Hernandez touched in Nani’s cross at the near post to give United the lead on 17 minutes and he slotted in his second 16 minutes from time after linking up with Rooney.
The England striker then tapped in a third on 84 from substitute Berbatov’s pass and defender Fabio Da Silva got the fourth.
Despite the four-goal romp, Ferguson praised the contribution of Dutch goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar who made a number of key saves while the game was goalless.
“His composure is just outstanding as is his organisation of the defenders,” Ferguson said. “Wigan were terrific in the first 20 minutes and van der Sar had to make some great saves.”
Wolverhampton Wanderers moved off the foot of the table and out of the bottom three by thrashing 10-man Blackpool 4-0 at Molineux.
Sylvan Ebanks-Blake scored twice for Wolves, who made their extra man count after Blackpool’s leading scorer DJ Campbell was sent off just before halftime for raising his hands at Richard Stearman.
“I spoke in the week about it being our biggest game and we’ve dealt with it very professionally,” Wolves manager Mick McCarthy told BBC Sport.
“We had a fabulous goal to start with (by Matt Jarvis) and then they had a player sent off...maybe it was our lucky day.”
Victory for Wolves relegated West Ham United to bottom spot, although the London side could leapfrog Wigan if they can beat sixth-placed Liverpool at Upton Park on Sunday.
In other games, Jermaine Beckford scored twice to give Everton a much-needed 2-0 win at home to Sunderland and Ashley Young also netted two as Aston Villa won 4-1 at home to Blackburn Rovers, who had defender Ryan Nelsen sent off. Newcastle United and Bolton drew 1-1.