Result: Manchester United 4-0 Aston Villa

Danny Welbeck
© PA Photos
Wayne Rooney scores twice as Manchester United regain their five-point lead over Manchester City atop the Premier League.

Manchester United have reclaimed their five-point lead over Manchester City at the top of the Premier League after dispatching Aston Villa with ease this afternoon.

The visitors had an opportunity inside the opening minute as Andreas Weimann was sent free, only to place his shot straight into David de Gea's palms.

United had the lead in the seventh minute as Ashley Young was adjudged to have been brought down by Ciaran Clark, with Rooney sending Shay Given the wrong way from 12 yards.

The early goal seemed to give United extra impetus and they took control of the game with Antonio Valencia a regular threat down the right, with Rooney stinging the palms of Given from nine yards out.

A second goal for the Red Devils looked on the cards and they almost got it when Valencia fired in a low cross that Welbeck diverted towards goal; Given was however equal to the effort as he reacted quickly to flick over.

Welbeck did find a way past Given two minutes before the interval by getting on the end of Patrice Evra's low cross and prodding home to make it two.

After the break, United struggled to dominate in the same manner as the opening half and the first real chance fell to Villa substitute Emile Heskey, with his header being tipped over by De Gea.

Midway through the second 45 Valencia skimmed a low ball to Rooney in the area but the England forward, wasteful for much of the game, dragged his effort wide.

He made up for it minutes later by exchanging passes with Valencia before seeing his low drive deflect past Given to wrap up the points. Rooney was not offered the chance to complete his treble as he was instantly replaced by Dimitar Berbatov.

Substitute Nani added a fourth in stoppage time by slotting under Given following a pass from Jonny Evans.

United next welcome Everton to Old Trafford, while a loss for Villa means they can still possibly be dragged into a relegation battle at the bottom.

Wayne Rooney and Michael Carrick
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Half-Time Report: Man Utd 2-0 Villa
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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Chelsea25193352183460
2Manchester CityMan City25164551292252
3Tottenham HotspurSpurs25148346182850
4Arsenal25155554282650
5Liverpool25147454302449
6Manchester UnitedMan Utd25139338211748
7Everton25118640271341
8West Bromwich AlbionWest Brom2510783431337
9Stoke CityStoke258893036-632
10West Ham UnitedWest Ham2595113443-932
11Southampton2586112831-330
12Burnley2593132736-930
13Watford2586112942-1330
14Bournemouth2575133549-1426
15Swansea CitySwansea2573153154-2324
16Middlesbrough25410111927-822
17Leicester CityLeicester2556142443-1921
18Hull City2555152249-2720
19Crystal Palace2554163246-1419
20Sunderland2554162446-2219
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