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.