Roo back as United beat Latics

United brushed aside Wigan, who self-destructed in the second half
with two unnecessary red cards, but perhaps more importantly Rooney
made his first appearance since the contract saga that saw the
England striker threaten to leave before signing a new five-year
deal. The setbacks suffered by Arsenal and Chelsea made it
imperative that United did not slip up too and they made no mistake
as headers by Patrice Evra and Javier Hernandez ensured Ferguson’s
men second spot in the Premier League table, behind Chelsea only on
goal difference. Rooney should have put the icing on the cake by
scoring too but passed up a glorious opportunity. For Wigan, red
cards for Antolin Alcaraz and Hugo Rodallega virtually ensured they
would get nothing from the game. Roberto Martinez’s men had started
well, showing from the start however that they were not going to
lie down and be rolled over. The visitors were presented with a
fabulous chance in the opening exchanges to stun United when
Nemanja Vidic slipped as he tried to clear Charles N’Zogbia’s
cross. The ball popped up in the air and Jordi Gomez should have at
least hit the target – instead he scooped over to the huge relief
of most of those inside Old Trafford. Nani’s free-kick from deep on
the left nearly surprised Ali Al Habsi in the Wigan goal, but he
managed a scrambled save, before Rodallega charged through the
United defence and drove in a shot, but it was straight at Edwin
van der Sar. Al Habsi had to be smart to keep out Nani again but
Wigan showed their threat on the break when N’Zogbia swept into the
penalty area but his shot – with his right foot rather than his
favoured left – was disappointing from a good position. There was
another let-off for United when Ronnie Stam stabbed wide after
United’s defence looked all at sea again, then N’Zogbia burst
between Ferdinand and Rafael and was only denied by Van der Sar
coming out to block. From the corner Rodallega tried the
spectacular with an overhead kick but the ball went miles wide.
After so many let-offs the stage seemed set for United to make
Wigan pay and so it turned out in the last minute of the half as
Evra scored his first goal for three and a half years. Park Ji Sung
floated a cross to the back post and Evra rose and sent a downward
header past Al Habsi. Rooney came on in the 57th minute to cheers
and some boos as he and Paul Scholes replaced Macheda and Park.
Almost immediately the match swung even further in United’s favour
as Wigan skipper Alcaraz was sent off after picking up his second
yellow card for rash and needless challenge on Darren Fletcher.
Wigan completely lost their heads and two minutes later Rodallega
was following his captain down the tunnel after a crazy two-footed
challenge on Rafael. That left Wigan to play for half an hour with
just nine men and Ferguson went for the jugular with Hernandez
coming on for Michael Carrick. Rooney, with only a penalty to his
name this season, nearly made it 2-0 when he rose above Steve
Gohouri and sent a fierce header goalwards only for Al Habsi to tip
over. It did not take long for United to get the goal however as
Hernandez’s powerful diving header from Rafael’s cross easily beat
Al Habsi. Hendry Thomas tried to get Wigan back into it with a
long-range free-kick that was easy for Van der Sar before Rooney
should have put away the easiest of chances in injury time. Nani’s
cross reached Rooney inside the six-yard box but he did not make
good contact and Al Habsi was able to save.