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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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Chelsea33253569294078
2Tottenham HotspurSpurs33228369224774
3Liverpool34199670422866
4Manchester CityMan City33198663352865
5Manchester UnitedMan Utd331713350242664
6Arsenal32186864402460
7Everton341610860372358
8West Bromwich AlbionWest Brom33128133942-344
9Southampton32117143944-540
10Watford33117153754-1740
11Stoke CityStoke34109153750-1339
12Crystal Palace34115184654-838
13Bournemouth34108164963-1438
14West Ham UnitedWest Ham34108164459-1538
15Leicester CityLeicester33107164154-1337
16Burnley34106183349-1636
17Hull City3496193667-3133
18Swansea CitySwansea3494213968-2931
19Middlesbrough34512172443-1927
20Sunderland3356222659-3321
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