Date:Thursday December 15 2005
MAN UTD: Van der Sar, Neville, Ferdinand (Bardsley 65), Brown, O'Shea, Fletcher, Smith, Scholes (Park 74), Giggs (Ronaldo 70), Rooney, van Nistelrooy.
Subs Not Used: Howard, Saha.
WIGAN: Pollitt, Chimbonda, Jackson, Henchoz, Baines, Bullard, Skoko (Kavanagh 45), Mahon (McCulloch 74), Connolly, Roberts, Camara.
Subs Not Used: Walsh, Taylor, Teale.
Manchester United responded to Sir Alex Ferguson's call to show the Premiership that there was fight left in United's challenge.
Rio Ferdinand's first goal in 140 appearances for United provided the launchpad for United's biggest Premiership win of the season.
The result saw United move into second spot and reduce Chelsea's Premiership lead to nine points.
Former United apprentice Mike Pollitt produced four outstanding stops in the opening half-hour to deny his old club, it was understandable a worried frown must have appeared on Ferguson's face.
After denying Paul Scholes, Darren Fletcher and Rooney, the best of Pollitt's series of saves came at the expense of Van Nistelrooy, who did brilliantly to keep his volley down only for the Wigan keeper to match the Dutchman's efforts with a stupendous stop to his left.
It proved to be the height of Ferguson's anxiety as, from the corner which followed Ferdinand put his team in front with a deft near-post header Pollitt could only steer further into his own goal.
Rooney's first was a solo effort, which even included a slip as he collected Fletcher's pass inside the Wigan box.
Rooney may have been on his knees, but somehow he still managed to regain control and wriggle past Stephane Henchoz before rising to his feet, beating Leighton Baines with embarrassing ease and then beating Pollitt with a thunderous low left-foot shot.
Van Nistelrooy deserved plenty of credit for Rooney's second, for it was the Dutchman's perfectly-placed through-ball which sent the former Everton striker clean through.
There was not the slightest moment of panic from Rooney, who charged through, stared into Pollitt's eyes, then beat the goalkeeper with clinical efficiency, chipping supremely into the net.
Really, it should have been Rooney's hat-trick goal, because he had only just spurned a better chance than the two he took when he rapped Gary Neville's cross onto the bar with the goal gaping.
Had Van Nistelrooy been in generous mood, Rooney would still have collected the match ball. But, after referee Alan Wiley had harshly ruled Pollitt had sent the Dutchman tumbling in the area, Van Nistelrooy opted to take the penalty kick himself.
Date:Thursday December 15 2005
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|Aston Villa||1||-||1||Man Utd|
|2. Man City||22||14||5||3||23||47|
|4. Man Utd||22||11||7||4||15||40|
|7. West Ham||22||10||6||6||10||36|
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