Half-Time Report: Robin van Persie hat-trick puts Manchester United in control

Robin van Persie scores a first-half hat-trick against Aston Villa to move Manchester United to within 45 minutes of winning the Premier League title.

Manchester United have moved within 45 minutes of clinching an unprecedented 20th league title having raced into a 3-0 lead against Aston Villa in the first half of their Premier League encounter this evening.

Robin van Persie scored all three goals for the Red Devils, who just need a win to mathematically secure the title.

Manchester United's Robin van Persie scores his first goal against Aston Villa on April 22, 2013© PA Photos

The first goal came after just two minutes when Rafael da Silva's ball into the box was knocked back inside by Ryan Giggs to present Van Persie with an easy tap-in that he gleefully accepted.

Van Persie almost got a second less than a minute later when Ron Vlaar misjudged Antonio Valencia's cross, but this time the United striker's volley went just over the bar.

Manchester United's Robin van Persie celebrates scoring against Aston Villa on April 22, 2013© PA Photos

Rafael was next to come close for United when his shot from outside the box was good enough to beat Brad Guzan but it came back off the post.

Villa's first chance of the match came in the 12th minute when Andreas Weimann broke free before giving the ball to Christian Benteke, who could only lift his shot over the bar.

Manchester United's Robin van Persie scores his second goal against Aston Villa on April 22, 2013© PA Photos

Van Persie punished the visitors for this miss just a minute later, connecting with Wayne Rooney's lofted pass to hammer a wonderful volley into the top corner.

The Dutch striker completed his hat-trick just after the half-hour mark when he controlled Giggs's pass before firing an effort past Guzan and in off the post.

Villa almost pulled a goal back just before half time when Gabriel Agbonlahor found space to shoot from the edge of the box, but his strike flew narrowly past the post.

Manchester United's Robin van Persie scores his second goal against Aston Villa on April 22, 2013
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