Man United stop rot with victory at Villa
England striker Danny Welbeck made the most of a rare start for Manchester United with a first-half double in a 3-0 win at Aston Villa on Sunday as the champions ended a run of four Premier League games without victory.sports Updated: Dec 16, 2013 00:59 IST
England striker Danny Welbeck made the most of a rare start for Manchester United with a first-half double in a 3-0 win at Aston Villa on Sunday as the champions ended a run of four Premier League games without victory.
Welbeck, recalled in place of injured Robin van Persie, struck twice in three minutes for United who moved up one spot to eighth, 10 points behind leaders Arsenal.
United had suffered successive home defeats by Everton and Newcastle United that followed away draws with Cardiff City and Tottenham Hotspur but outclassed the hosts and had the game safe when Tom Cleverley struck on 52 minutes.
Before kickoff Welbeck had scored as many goals for England - three - this season as he had for United but he was in the right place to make the breakthrough on 15 minutes, poking home the rebound after Adnan Januzaj headed against the foot of the left hand upright.
His first Premier League goal since his first day of the season double against Swansea was followed swiftly by a second when he linked up with the impressive Antonio Valencia, feeding the Ecuadorian and then sprinting into the box to get on the end of his return cross.
Welbeck was inches away from a hat-trick when he slid a shot past the far post from a tight angle and also went close after the break when his chip over a stranded Brad Guzan was just too high.
Cleverley said earlier this week that some of his performances had been 'average' this season, but wore a broad smile after running on to Wayne Rooney's pass to beat Guzan with a low shot at his near post.
"It was a good job from us. The players did well and the only thing I would criticise is that we didn't score more goals," United manager David Moyes said.
"We were a bit sloppy in the first five minutes but after that played really well."
United received another boost when Scotland international midfielder Darren Fletcher, battling a chronic bowel condition, came off the bench for his first match appearance since late December last year.
The cheers from United fans for Fletcher were part-drowned out by the boos from the home end that greeted former Villa forward Ashley Young.
"It really means a lot and it spurs me on to do well for them," Fletcher said, in comments published on United's official Twitter page. "I don't want to take it easy, I want to get us back to where I know we should be. That's the biggest motivation for me."
Fletcher's team-mates also welcomed the 29-year-old's return, with goalkeeper David de Gea tweeting: "Good 3 points!! But most important thing Fletcher back in team!! Well done Darren!!"
Defender Rio Ferdinand wrote: "Great result today at villa park. Welcome back Mr Fletcher! Well deserved after working so hard after being out."
In another match, Nathan Dyer scored for Swansea City but suffered a suspected fractured right ankle in the 1-1 draw at Norwich City.
Dyer flicked past John Ruddy on 12 minutes but was carried off on a stretcher late in the first half after a challenge with Sebastien Bassong.
Norwich earned a point thanks to Gary Hooper's spectacular volley in first-half stoppage time.
Liverpool rout spurs
Tottenham: Liverpool turned on the style, hammering Tottenham Hotspurs 5-0 to jump to second in the Premiership table on Sunday.
Talisman Luis Suarez gave the 18th minute lead and scored a late second goal with Jordan Henderson, Jon Flanagan and Raheem Sterling joining in the goalfest.
Liverpool are level on points with Chelsea but lead on goal difference. Arsenal hold on to their lead by two points despite losing to Manchester City on Saturday.