5:11pm Tuesday 1st January 2013
© Press Association 2014
Robin van Persie once again underlined his value to Manchester United as a double strike helped the Red Devils cruise to a 4-0 win over Wigan at the DW Stadium.
Although Javier Hernandez also managed a smartly taken double as United preserved their seven-point lead at the top, it was Van Persie who stamped his class on proceedings.
His 18th goal of the season was one of his best, calmly stepping inside Ivan Ramis before firing into the corner with his supposedly weaker right-foot. And as he tapped Danny Welbeck's square ball into an empty net in stoppage time, it means Van Persie has now scored eight goals in his last eight games.
Ferguson had filled his midfield, denying Roberto Martinez's men the space to implement an intended passing game. The attacking warning came when Ryan Giggs lifted a superb crossfield ball beyond Wigan's defence, which Hernandez reached, only to be correctly ruled offside as he beat Ali Al Habsi.
Jonny Evans then nipped in front of Arouna Kone to intercept Gary Caldwell's poorly-hit clearance, the Northern Irishman advanced far enough to divert Tom Cleverley's square ball into the path of Patrice Evra.
After one fresh air shot, Evra let fly with a low stinger which Al Habsi could not hold, allowing Hernandez to pounce from close range. It was the Mexican's 11th goal of the season and his 30th overall in the Premier League for United. Remarkably, all 30 have come from inside the area.
Van Persie then got in on the act as, after a mix-up in midfield gifted United possession deep inside the Wigan half, the hosts could not afford Ivan Ramis' slip. Ramis recovered his ground, only for Van Persie to step inside the defender and find the far corner with a right-footed effort of unerring accuracy.
There was little chance of United throwing away the advantage he had given them. Other than a wafer-thin offside call that went against Kone, who tapped home Franco di Santo's low cross, the visitors were completely dominant.
No-one could begrudge them their third, just after the hour, when Van Persie's free-kick deflected into Hernandez's path. And the striker was once again in the box as he delivered the first-time finish.
With Shinji Kagawa also getting a valuable 20 minutes under his belt, United are in a position of strength, and fittingly Van Persie had the last word two minutes from time.
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