Wayne Rooney returned to form to give United an important vitory over Aston Villa yesterday. United took the lead within minutes, Wayne Rooney blasting home from the edge of the box. He added United's second before the interval, calmly side-footing in Nani's excellent cross. Villa were back in it with just over half a hour to go, but within minutes Nemanja Vidic sealed the victory with a stunning goal. United returned to a more familiar lineup after the FA cup victory over Southampton, with regular pairing Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic back in front of Van der Sar, with Evra and O'shea completing the defence. In midfield, Giggs and Nani took up the wings, with Darren Fletcher and Michael Carrick in midfield, whilst the number 1 partnership of Rooney and Berbatov formed the attack.
With just 48 seconds on the clock, Wayne Rooney scored! After a punt down the field from Edwin Van Der Sar, Rooney plucked the ball from the sky with an excellent first touch, before volleying it past the helpless Brad Friedel to give United the early lead. Both Nani and Giggs came close to doubling United's lead, just after the 20th and 30th minutes respectively, however both were denied by fine saves from Brad Friedel. Firstly, Rooney's deflected pass found it's way to Nani, whose powerful first time shot was saved well - secondly, Giggs managed to dribble through and beat Collins with a dummy, before hitting it hard and low to Friedel's right, but once again the veteran keeper was up to the task.
Aston Villa rarely threatened, and in all honesty it was a fairly decent, comfortbale performance, if not a very good one, but the second goal was still missing. Ryan Giggs was involved again as he played a superb inside ball for Patrice Evra down the left wing, and the Frenchman took the ball on and shot! However, Brad Friedel was there again to make the save, and unfortunately, the parried ball fell just behind Berbatov who had made the run in to the box in anticipation. Untied finally did manage to extend their lead in the dying minutes of the first half. After some excellent dribbling on the right, Nani spotted Rooney's run, and delivered an inch-perfect pass, which Rooney wasted no time in slotting in to the bottom corner. At the break, United were two-nil up.
The Second half continued in a similar fashion, once again, Aston Villa didn't seem very threatening, but near the hour mark, something that would be considered an oddity of late occurred - a defensive mistake. It would be harsh to pick anyone out in particular, but each in their own way, Nemanja Vidic, Rio Ferdinand and John O'shea were all culpable (you could say Evra too in fact). As a result of Downing drifting in to the box past Nemanja Vidic, Rio Ferdinand came across to intercept the ball, but Downing managed to find Darren Bent in space (after O'shea failed to go over to cover the space left) and Villa's recent aqcuisition neatly placed the ball past Van der Sar to liven things up!
Villa's joy was short-lived though, as just 3 minutes after Aston Villa cut the lead, Nemanja Vidic restored it! After a corner was cleared, Vidic stayed forward, and the ball was clipped in to the box again. Playing a one-two with Rooney, he ran back on to the ball, and thumpred it past Friedel through a crowd of defenders! An outstanding finish! Aston Villa came close to hitting back immediately, firstly through Richard Dunne - who narrowly headed over after a superb delivery from Stewart Downing, the ball grazing the crossbar on its way! Then Ashley Young came close! As John O'shea stood off him, he cut inside and curled a fine shot towards the back post! Van der Sar could only stand and watch as his logn range effort struck the crossbar and went out for a goal kick!
With 15 minutes to go, Wayne Rooney squandered a golden oppertunity for a hat trick, which would have capped off his excellent performance. Latching on to John O'sheas through ball, Rooney's first touch wasn't quite good enough, and it gave Richard Dunne just enough of a chance to pull off a superb sliding tackle! Moments from the end, it should have been four, as Berbatov's blocked shot deflected to Nani, whose diagonal shot was magnificently saved by Friedel! However, it fell back out to Berbatov, who should've scored, but he leant back whilst taking the shot, and his shot went over! The final chance of the game fell once more to Rooney, who struck a first time volley from 25 yards out! Yet again, Brad Friedel was (pardon the pun) at hand to punch it clear to the left, once more denying him his hat-trick! Despite not netting 3, Wayne Rooney was superb, and what a brilliant time for him to find form too - his return to form should worry teams given that United went unbeaten without him in top form!