Rooney scores 2 as Man United beats Villa 3-1

Rooney scores 2 as Man United beats Villa 3-1

Published Feb. 2, 2011 1:10 a.m. ET

Wayne Rooney's first-half double guided unbeaten Premier League leader Manchester United to a convincing 3-1 win over Aston Villa at Old Trafford on Tuesday.

The England striker opened the scoring after just 48 seconds and added a second on the stroke of halftime to set United on its way to a 12th win in 13 home matches this campaign.

New signing Darren Bent reduced Villa's deficit in the 58th minute but Nemanja Vidic secured the points for United in the 63rd, keeping the 18-time champions five points clear of second-place Arsenal.

The goals were Rooney's first in open play at Old Trafford this season, moving him onto four in total in the league.


''Goals always help strikers,'' United manager Alex Ferguson said of Rooney. ''He's always had a great appetite to play. It's inbred in the boy and he got his rewards eventually.''

The win equaled United's club record of 29 straight league matches unbeaten.

''What happens in the run-in is that you keep knocking off the games,'' Ferguson said. ''What we have to do is keep the momentum going.''

Former United States goalkeeper Brad Friedel, at the age of 39 years and 259 days, was celebrating becoming the oldest player in Villa's history, overtaking 1940s player Ernie Callaghan. It was also Friedel's 253rd consecutive appearance in the Premier League.

But the first thing he did in the match was pick the ball out of the back of the net following Rooney's early goal.

A clearance by Edwin van der Sar, United's own veteran keeper, cleared Villa defender Richard Dunne and was excellently brought down by Rooney, who took the ball on and lashed a shot past Friedel from 20 meters.

It was only the striker's second goal at Old Trafford this season - his other came from the penalty spot against West Ham in August - and United was intent on doubling the lead.

Portugal winger Nani shot over before unleashing a powerful drive that was superbly saved by Friedel.

United midfielder Darren Fletcher was forced off with a facial injury, and was replaced by Anderson, but it didn't halt the team's momentum.

Patrice Evra and top scorer Dimitar Berbatov wasted further chances before Rooney pounced for his second moments prior to halftime, getting on the end of Nani's cross to slot home.

Villa pulled a goal back through Bent, who joined the central England club this month for a fee that could rise to 24 million pounds ($39 million), when he tapped in a cross by Stewart Downing.

But Vidic calmed any nerves United may have had by smashing home a volley in the 63rd after Rooney laid the ball off to the Serbia defender.

There was still time for Villa winger Ashley Young to hit the bar while Friedel palmed the ball away to deny Rooney a hat trick in the closing stages.