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Page last updated at 19:10 GMT, Saturday, 29 March 2008

Man Utd 4-0 Aston Villa

Man Utd's Patrice Evra congratulates Wayne Rooney after his first goal
Man Utd's Patrice Evra congratulates Wayne Rooney after his first goal

Manchester United stretched their lead at the Premier League summit to six points with a stunning display.

Cristiano Ronaldo's outrageous flick started the agony for Aston Villa after 17 minutes and he provided Carlos Tevez with a simple second before half-time.

Wayne Rooney rounded Scott Carson for a third after 53 minutes and he slid home the fourth with 20 minutes left after more superb creativity from Ronaldo.

Shaun Maloney missed Villa's best chance, but United were outstanding.

Urban Legend

United's football was mesmeric, despite atrocious conditions, and Martin O'Neill's fast-fading side could easily have been on the end of an even heavier beating.

Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson took a precaution ahead of the Champions League quarter-final visit to AS Roma by resting goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar, who was suffering from a slight groin strain.

Tomasz Kuszczak returned in goal, but spent much of the evening admiring a virtuoso United attacking display.

Ronaldo had already tested Villa keeper Carson before he produced a finish that was brilliant even by his own sky-high standards to give United the lead after 17 minutes.

Villa could not clear a Ryan Giggs corner, and when Rio Ferdinand chested the ball towards Ronaldo, he produced an outrageous flick between the legs of Martin Laursen to beat Carson.

Ronaldo turned creator as United extended their lead after 33 minutes, producing a perfect first-time cross to provide Tevez with a simple headed finish.

Villa were facing a long and arduous 90 minutes, and their situation was not helped when striker John Carew limped off with a groin injury before half-time, to be replaced by Maloney.

Rooney should have sealed the points for United after 48 minutes when he was put clear by Tevez only to shoot wide - Maloney then wasting an equally good chance for Villa in a similar position seconds later.

England striker Rooney made amends for his miss after 53 minutes when he took another flamboyant touch from Ronaldo to round Carson and score with ease.

Kuszczak was called into action after 55 minutes to save from Maloney's curling angled drive, but it was a minor inconvenience to a United side threatening to run riot.

Ferguson made a triple substitution in the 61st minute, sending on Owen Hargreaves, Anderson and John O'Shea for Patrice Evra, Michael Carrick and Ferdinand.

Hargreaves was in on the action instantly with a perfect cross that Tevez somehow headed wide, before Rooney struck the outside of the post with a measured finish.

Ronaldo and Rooney were irresistible - and combined once more for United's fourth in the 70th minute.

Rooney slid in a right-foot finish after being played in by another stunning touch from Ronaldo.

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Interview: Manchester United's Wayne Rooney

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson:

"The players reached a peak last week and we've continued that.

"They realise now it's a race to the line, we need consistency and real focus and we showed fantastic energy.

"The title doesn't feel that close for us, but there is great confidence in the way the team is playing and that's great at this time of the year."

Aston Villa manager Martin O'Neill:

"If you could ever try to set the benchmark, that's it.

"We came up against a team on top of their game; we have to admit they were splendid.

"There were things there to give us heart. The scoreline was pretty strong, but we had one or two chances that could have made it more respectable."

Man Utd: Kuszczak, Brown, Ferdinand (Hargreaves 62), Vidic, Evra (O'Shea 62), Ronaldo, Carrick (Anderson 61), Scholes, Giggs, Tevez, Rooney.
Subs Not Used: Foster, Park.

Booked: Vidic.

Goals: Ronaldo 17, Tevez 33, Rooney 53, 70.

Aston Villa: Carson, Reo-Coker, Mellberg, Laursen, Bouma (Osbourne 80), Agbonlahor, Petrov, Barry, Young, Harewood (Salifou 69), Carew (Maloney 41).
Subs Not Used: Taylor, Knight.

Booked: Bouma.

Att: 75,932

Ref: Mark Halsey (Lancashire).

BBC Sport Player Rater man of the match: Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo 8.93 (on 90 minutes).

Please note that you can still give the players marks out of 10 on BBC Sport's Player Rater after the match has finished.

see also
How to watch Match of the Day
08 Oct 07 |  Match of the Day
Premier League as it happened
29 Mar 08 |  Premier League
Saturday's football photos
29 Mar 08 |  Football

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