Manchester United win the Premier League title: Six defining matches

Man United win the title: Six defining matches
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Sports Mole selects six of the most important matches in Manchester United's run to the Premier League title.

For a number of weeks, it had only been a matter of time before Manchester United regained the Premier League title from their rivals Manchester City.

Such was the advantage that Sir Alex Ferguson's team held, they were able to win it with four matches to spare last night thanks to a 3-0 win over Aston Villa at Old Trafford.

With the dust on another title success having started to settle, Sports Mole looks back over the campaign to pick out six of the key clashes that helped United to claim the trophy for a 13th time in the Premier League era and a 20th overall.

Southampton 2-3 Man United - Sunday, September 2

All those cynics that had scoffed at Ferguson's decision to part with £24m to land Robin van Persie in the summer were silenced at the St Mary's Stadium. The Dutchman could even afford to see a penalty saved by Kelvin Davis as his hat-trick helped United to a 3-2 win over the recently-promoted Saints. The match set a trend for Van Persie's new club, who made a habit of coming from behind to win over the course of the season. The final two goals of his trio came in the 87th minute and stoppage time.

Chelsea 2-3 Man United - Sunday, October 28

Some people would ready to declare Chelsea the champions as early as October had the Blues won through at Stamford Bridge. Under Roberto Di Matteo, Chelsea were playing some slick football and a victory would have put seven points between themselves and United. What unfolded was 90 minutes packed with incident. The visitors raced into a two-goal lead, with Van Persie among the goals, but they were pegged back by Ramires and Juan Mata. The game swung back United's way though when Fernando Torres and Branislav Ivanovic were sent off, leaving Javier Hernandez to turn in the winner for United 15 minutes from time. Soon after Di Matteo was sacked and Chelsea's title challenged stuttered under interim boss Rafael Benitez.

Aston Villa 2-3 Man United - Saturday, November 10

Just as they did at Southampton, United gave their hosts a headstart at Villa Park. Paul Lambert's Villa actually took a two-goal lead into the break, which prompted Ferguson to call for the services of Hernandez at the start of the second half. The clinical Mexican went on to score twice - including a winner three minutes from the end, while it was his effort that deflected into the net via Villa captain Ron Vlaar. The result was United's 14 win in 16 matches and also moved them four points clear at the top.

Man City 2-3 Man United - Sunday, December 9

Reflecting on the previous season, Ferguson had gone on record to say that the two Manchester derby defeats had cost his side dearly. So, with his side making the trip to Etihad Stadium three points clear of their neighbours, a win would have sent out a real statement. Wayne Rooney proved his worth by scoring a brace to send United into the break 2-0 up. However, Yaya Toure reduced the deficit on the hour mark, before Pablo Zabaleta looked to have secured a share of the spoils four minutes from time with a drilled effort. Step forward Van Persie, who played his way into United folklore as his stoppage-time free kick deflected off Samir Nasri and beat Joe Hart to send United six points in front at the summit.

Man United 4-3 Newcastle United - Wednesday, December 26

Many will point to Boxing Day 2012 as arguably the biggest moment in the title race. While United were recording a 4-3 win over Newcastle United at Old Trafford, Man City were slumping to a 1-0 defeat in the North-East to Sunderland. What was even more remarkable is the fact that United trailed Newcastle on three occasions before they were able to open up a seven-point advantage. Just as he had done against Chelsea and Villa, it was Hernandez who claimed the winner when he ghosted in at the back post to volley in a cross by Michael Carrick in time added on.

Man United 2-0 Everton - Sunday, February 10

It was by no means a vintage performance, but the 2-0 victory over Everton prompted most people to concede that the title race was over. Ryan Giggs kept up his record of scoring at least one goal in every Premier League season, while Van Persie also got in on the act. The win over David Moyes's side allowed United to go 12 points in front of City, who had slipped to a 3-1 loss against Southampton the day before. The two results even prompted Roberto Mancini to admit that it was matter of when and not if United would win the title.

Ramires is congratulated by team mates Oscar and Juan Mata after scoring the equaliser against Manchester United in the FA Cup quarter final on March 10, 2013
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