Manchester United finally found their goal-scoring touch on Saturday with a 4-0 win over Wigan that lifted them top of the Premier League for the first time this season.
Cristiano Ronaldo got two goals and Wayne Rooney and Carlos Tevez also scored to give United 20 points — one more than Arsenal, who hosts Sunderland on Sunday.
Aston Villa beat West Ham 1-0 in Saturday’s other Premier League match.
United scored all their goals after the interval.
”The second-half performance was absolutely superb. We sped the game up, and the flow was much better,” Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson said. ”There was excellent interplay between the strikers, and it seems to be coming together.”
It was the first time this season that United have scored more than two goals in any competition. United’s 1-0 victory on Tuesday over AS Roma in the Champions League was their sixth single-goal victory in eight matches this season.
Ronaldo scored in the 60th and 76th minutes. Ryan Giggs sent the ball into the box and, after Wigan goalkeeper Chris Kirkland pushed away his deflected shot, Ronaldo headed in at close range for his first goal.
Rooney crossed for Ronaldo to score his second goal and added the third for United with an 82nd-minute header.
Tevez had put United in the lead in the 54th, evading two Wigan defenders and dribbling around the approaching Kirkland to score.
On Sunday, it’s: Arsenal vs Sunderland; Reading vs Derby; Liverpool vs Tottenham; Bolton vs Chelsea; Newcastle vs Everton; Manchester City vs Middlesbrough; Blackburn vs Birmingham; and Fulham vs Portsmouth.
It was a bad day for United injury-wise, with defenders Nemanja Vidic and John O’Shea taken off in the first half, and striker Louis Saha hurt in the warm-up.
”Considering all the things that happened I think we’ve done fantastically well,” Ferguson said. ”Vidic has been taken to hospital with concussion, O’Shea has a dead [bruised] leg and Louis felt his knee in the warm-up. You can’t risk that.”
Vidic hurt his head in an aerial collision with Wigan defender Marcus Bent in the second minute and needed treatment.
Fifteen minutes later, Vidic was again looked at by medical staff on the side of the field and talked at length with United manager Alex Ferguson. He was taken off in the 21st minute for Anderson, forcing a reshuffle of the United defence.
It didn’t last long. O’Shea, who had moved back to central defence to allow Anderson to play in midfield, came off in the 30th minute with a leg injury. He was replaced by fullback Daniel Simpson for his second United appearance.
Injuries had already prompted Ferguson to give Gerard Pique his second Premier League start at right back. And after Saha was hurt during the warm-up, midfielder Chris Eagles replaced him on the bench.
”We had 10 players missing in the end, but great credit to all the players who played today [Saturday],” Ferguson said.
Villa took the lead after 24 minutes, when Craig Gardner scored from a free kick, which was earned when Gabriel Agbonlahor was brought down just outside West Ham’s box by Danny Gabbidon.
It was Villa’s fourth successive home win and gave it 14 points from eight games. West Ham have 10 points, also from eight games. — Sapa-AP