Summary: Manchester United were crowned Premier League champions after Robin Van Persie’s stunning first-half hat-trick sunk struggling Aston Villa at Old Trafford.
It was fitting that Van Persie, wearing the number 20 on his back, was the man to fire United to their 20th top-flight crown and regain the throne from local rivals Manchester City.
Their intent was clear from the first kick and within 90 seconds the PFA Player of the Year nominee had the hosts in front. Rafael’s deep cross from the right was expertly returned back across goal by Ryan Giggs giving Van Persie the easy task of turning in from a yard out.
After a two-month drought the Dutchman was accused of fatigue but gave everyone a reminder of his world class credentials with a stunning second just before the quarter hour. Wayne Rooney clipped a wonderful ball over the Villa backline and Van Persie watched the ball drop over his shoulder before unleashing a breathtaking first time volley into the bottom corner.
The hat-trick was complete 20 minutes later with Giggs picking out Van Persie once again and the Red Devils leading scorer stabbed the ball past Brad Guzan to register his 24th goal of the season and move above Luis Suarez in the Golden Boot stakes.
Unfortunately for Villa, who remain 17th and in deep trouble, they had to endure a second half which more or less resembled a procession for United. They did come close to a consolation when Andreas Weinmann’s header beat David de Gea but not Van Persie on the line.
Ferguson rejoiced on the touchline as his year-long quest to recapture the title finally came to a happy ending as joined the players in a lap of honour around Old Trafford.
Sir Alex Ferguson post-match…“It is sweet, doesn’t matter when you win it, the consistency has been phenomenal. We have lived up to the expectation. This could arguable be [our best ever squad]. There is a lot of youth and a lot will get better, we expect that.”
Paul Lambert post-match…“You want to give a good account of yourselves at Old Trafford but after the start we had you are not wanting to concede more goals. The lads kept on going and, for us, next Monday [against Sunderland] is the one we have to win.”
Good night for…Robin Van Persie: His decision to leave Arsenal in the summer in search of a title winners medal was fully justified tonight. A stunning treble, the second of which is destined to be a contender for Goal of the Season, capped an excellent night and season for the prolific Dutchman.
Bad night for…Ron Vlaar: Not the captain Villa need in this time of struggle. Allowances are made given he was coming up against a world-class striker but the rate at which Vlaar crumbled after the first goal went in should surely lead to Paul Lambert questioning whether he has the mental strength to lead the club on the field.