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Rooney Gives United a 2-0 Lead

Rooney's strikes seperate the teams

Sir Alex Ferguson chose not to start with Rafael at right back as John O’Shea stepped in as the Brazilian continues his recovery from a concussion picked up against Blackpool. Paul Scholes and Javier Hernandez were confined to the subs bench after good performances against Southampton last weekend.

United had an immediate impact and it was out of form Wayne Rooney who got his side off to the perfect start after 50 seconds. Goalkeeper Edwin Van Der Saar hit the ball long from just outside the United penalty area, Rooney allowed the ball to drop and got some control before volleying it into the roof of the net.

Nani took a shot that should have been a lot better just five minutes later. Dimitar Berbatov controlled a long pass well and turned in the corner of the pitch to pass to Nani who blasted high and wide when he should have hit the target.

Aston Villa’s first effort came in the tenth minute with a weak shot from striker Darren Bent. Bent hit a first time shot after a low cross but sent the ball straight at Van Der Saar who got down quickly smothering with ease.

Villa winger Ashley Young should have done better on the quarter of an hour mark when he wasted a great position. He did well to get beyond John O’Shea but couldn’t fashion a ball into the feet of a striker as he waited too long allowing Darren Bent to stray offside.

There were cries for a penalty from United inside the 20th minute after a clash of bodies in the Villa penalty area. Nani seemed to be challenged by an Aston Villa captain Richard Dunne and went down holding his knee as the referee waved away the cries.

However, Nani was back in the action a few minutes later and unleashed a fierce shot on the Villa goal. Brad Friedel was equal to the challenge and made a great save to tip the ball around the post as United started to build intense pressure.

Rooney and Ryan Giggs combined well on the half an hour mark but it was Villa’s American goalkeeper who prevailed again. Rooney played a smart pass to Giggs who dummied the Villa full back twice before letting off a shot, which Friedel did well to hang on to.

To their credit Aston Villa kept their heads down and continued to work hard. Winger Marc Albrighton sent a good ball round the back of the United defence but didn’t quite get enough curl on the ball and Van Der Saar raced out quickly to gather.

Patrice Evra could have double United’s lead just before the break when he ran on to a superb lobbed pass from Giggs down the left. The full back got enough on the ball to cause Friedel a problem but Berbatov couldn’t take advantage of a slight spill.

Rooney then piled the misery on Aston Villa on the stroke of half-time. The forward was allowed to ghost into the box as no Villa defender picked him up and he put the ball away from close range and wheeled away to celebrate with the recent frustrations released.

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