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
1Manchester CityMan City66001851318
2Tottenham HotspurSpurs6420103714
3Arsenal6411157813
4Liverpool6411169713
5Everton6411104613
6Manchester UnitedMan Utd6402127512
7Crystal Palace6312107310
8Chelsea6312109110
9Southampton62227618
10West Bromwich AlbionWest Brom62227618
11Watford62131011-17
12Leicester CityLeicester6213811-37
13Burnley621358-37
14Hull City6213712-57
15Bournemouth621349-57
16Middlesbrough612369-35
17Swansea CitySwansea6114510-54
18West Ham UnitedWest Ham6105716-93
19Stoke CityStoke6024415-112
20Sunderland6015512-71