After a goalless first half sent nerves jangling in the United camp it was the 37-year-old who calmed the 75,142 strong crowd as he broke the deadlock six minutes after the break to set United on course for a third win on the spin.
Sir Alex Ferguson’s men had laboured to wins in their last two outings against Fulham and Southampton and looked set to struggle again against Roberto Martinez’s spirited Wigan side.
The Red Devils should have led after just five minutes but Javier Hernandez saw his penalty saved by Ali Al-Habsi after he was adjudged to have brought down Danny Welbeck. A series of spurned opportunities from Welbeck did little to reduce anxiety levels amongst the home support that would have gone through the roof had Ivan Ramis and Arouna Kone displayed composure in front of goal towards the end of the half.
It was left to Scholes to diffuse any tension as he tapped in from close range after Nani’s low cross was spilled into his path by Al-Habsi. Hernandez then atoned for his failure from 12-yards beating the offside trap to convert Alex Buttner’s cross to double United’s lead just after the hour.
Buttner then made it a debut to remember as he bulldozed his way down the left flank before beating Al-Habsi with a brilliant strike from a seemingly impossible angle for his first goal since arriving at Old Trafford in the summer. That was followed by a fourth goal from teenager Nick Powell as he came off the bench to mark his introduction to the Premier League with a superb fourth goal as United move to second in the table.