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Last Updated: Saturday, 6 December, 2003, 16:56 GMT
Man Utd destroy Villa
Ruud van Nistelrooy scored two for Man Utd
Man Utd 4-0 Aston Villa

Ruud van Nistelrooy took his tally for the season to 14 goals as Manchester United eased to the most comfortable of victories against Aston Villa.

United boss Sir Alex Ferguson could not have wished for a more stress-free day following this week's heart scare, especially as rivals Chelsea and Arsenal both drew.

Van Nistelrooy scored twice in the first half against a Villa side which offered very little in attack.

And substitute Diego Forlan got in on the act with two goals in the final moments to leave Villa shell-shocked.

Villa arrived with two recent victories under their belt but, after losing their last two games, United showed their intent from the start.

Ryan Giggs found Kleberson, who fired a fierce shot straight into the arms of Thomas Sorensen to set the tone for the next 90 minutes.

Giggs then flicked on Cristiano Ronaldo's corner and Roy Keane, making his 550th career appearance, was denied when fit-again Lee Hendrie cleared his goal-bound shot.

The breakthrough came on 16 minutes when Van Nistelrooy fired United ahead after a neat one-two with the impressive Kleberson.

Villa gave United a fright when Ronaldo clumsily lost possession, allowing Darius Vassell to break and pick out Lee Hendrie, but Keane was on hand to clear after sprinting back 75 yards.

United's dominance paid off again as Van Nistelrooy made it 2-0 just before the interval when the Dutchman hooked a Giggs pass over his shoulder for a brilliant second.

The big Old Trafford crowd had little to get excited about early in the second half until England midfielder Paul Scholes made a surprise return after six weeks out following a groin operation.

Ferguson wanted more urgency from his side, who were playing deep in the comfort zone.

KEY MOMENTS
16 mins: Ruud van Nistelrooy puts Man Utd 1-0 up
45 mins: Van Nistelrooy hammers in his second
89 mins: Forlan curls home Man Utd's third
90 mins: Forlan does it again

Tim Howard finally made his first save in the United goal on the hour when he tipped Hendrie's speculative effort over the crossbar.

Van Nistelrooy was given a rest when he made way for Forlan as Ferguson looked ahead to Tuesday's Champions League Group B decider against VfB Stuttgart.

The wasteful Ronaldo missed a sitter after a fine sweeping move from defence to attack but the one-sided game began to fizzle out with United doing little more than playing out time.

That was until the final minute when Forlan curled an unstoppable left-footed shot past Sorensen and then volleyed in his second to make the scoreline somewhat flattering.


Man Utd: Howard, Gary Neville, Ferdinand, Silvestre, Fortune, Ronaldo, Phil Neville (Bellion 59), Keane, Kleberson, Giggs (Scholes 59), van Nistelrooy (Forlan 72).
Subs not used: Carroll, O'Shea.

Aston Villa: Sorensen, Delaney, Mellberg, Dublin, Samuel, McCann, Hendrie, Barry, Whittingham (Hitzlsperger 72), Angel (Allback 64), Vassell.
Subs not used: Postma, De la Cruz, Ridgewell.
Booked: Hendrie.

Attendance: 67,621.

Referee: S Dunn (Gloucestershire).




WATCH AND LISTEN
BBC Five Live's Ian Dennis
"Man Utd took their foot off the pedal in the second half"


Man Utd boss Sir Alex Ferguson
"I thought we went to sleep a bit"




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