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Last Updated: Sunday, 1 May, 2005, 16:54 GMT 17:54 UK
Charlton 0-4 Man Utd
Man Utd's Alan Smith and Charlton's Paul Konchesky
Manchester United overpowered Charlton to stay in the hunt for second place and an automatic Champions League slot.

Debutant keeper Stephan Andersen made a wonder save to deny Alan Smith, but the Dane then spilled a Wayne Rooney shot, allowing Paul Scholes to fire home.

Scholes set up the second, passing to Darren Fletcher who side-footed home.

Talal El Karkouri's mistake allowed Smith to add a third, with a Rooney flick sealing a fine win, while late on Charlton's Chris Perry was sent off.

If United ran out comfortable winners they were given a considerable helping hand by Charlton, with three of the visitors' goals stemming from defensive errors.

Charlton also struggled to create many attacking openings and rarely tested Roy Carroll, who made a good stop early on to block a Francis Jeffers volley.

If Carroll's save was impressive, Andersen produced an even better one to deny Smith.

Mikael Silvestre cleverly backheeled the ball for Smith to swivel and strike a venomous shot that looked destined for the net.

Displaying instinctive reactions and remarkable athleticism, Andersen managed to get a hand on the ball, enough of a hand to divert Smith's shot over the bar.

Scholes then latched on to a mistake by El Karkouri, but Andersen rushed out to narrow the angle and then push away a low shot from the Manchester United striker.

United were not to be denied for very much longer.

Rooney's swerving shot squirmed out of Andersen's hands and Scholes was quick to pounce on the rebound.

Having given his side the lead Scholes immediately picked up a yellow card for a dangerous two-footed tackle on Dennis Rommedahl.

Andersen's confidence might have taken a dent, but he quickly regained it with another fine stop to deny Rooney from point-blank range.

Just before the interval more lax Charlton defending allowed United to add a second.

Rommedahl conceded possession just outside his area, allowing first Rooney and then Scholes to create problems down the Charlton right.

Smith eventually pulled the ball back for Fletcher, who crisply slotted into the corner.

United were quickly back on the offensive after the restart, Rooney hitting the post with an angled shot.

Just past the hour Smith's quick thinking embarrassed El Karkouri when he got to the ball first and then curled the ball round Andersen to put United 3-0 up.

Rooney capped a fine performance to score United's fourth, timing his run to perfection, before lifting the ball over Andersen.

A miserable day for Charlton ended with substitute Perry's sending off when he hauled back Wes Brown.


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