Hernandez and Van Persie state their case as Red Devils romp to big win at Wigan
Javier Hernandez and Robin van Persie both scored twice as Barclays Premier League leaders Manchester United won 4-0 at Wigan Athletic yesterday to begin the year in fine style.
Hernandez also had a strike disallowed, which came prior to him making the breakthrough after 35 minutes at the DW Stadium.
Van Persie doubled United's lead in the 43rd minute and it was the Dutchman's free-kick that ballooned up to present Hernandez with his chance to net again in the 63rd minute.
The Mexican striker's volley ended Wigan's hopes of any reward and Van Persie fired a late fourth as United passed the 50-point mark, taking their haul to 52 from 21 games this season.
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Sir Alex Ferguson's side continue to head nearest rivals Manchester City by seven points as they attempt to claw back the title from their neighbours. Full-back Pablo Zabaleta inched the champions towards a 3-0 win against Stoke City when he scored in the 43rd minute at Etihad Stadium.
Edin Dzeko doubled the lead after 56 minutes when Sergio Aguero saw a shot pushed out, and Aguero fired a 74th-minute penalty to complete the scoring after Steven Nzonzi fouled David Silva.
Tottenham Hotspur climbed to third place – a point ahead of Chelsea – who have two games in hand, after a 3-1 home win over second-from-bottom Reading.
Spurs boss Andre Villas-Boas saw his side fall behind to a Pavel Pogrebnyak effort in the fourth minute, but Michael Dawson headed the hosts level in the ninth minute and Emmanuel Adebayor edged them ahead six minutes into the second half.
Clint Dempsey made the points safe for the Londoners, with his shot benefiting from a deflection as it beat Adam Federici for the third Spurs goal in the 79th minute.
Arsenal, Spurs' north London rivals, struggled at Southampton last night but Guly do Prado's own goal ensured they returned home with a point from a 1-1 draw.
Arsene Wenger's side rarely threatened on the south coast in a game that the relegation-threatened hosts looked more likely to win.
The Saints proved a much different proposition to the team that Arsenal ruthlessly dispatched of 6-1 in September, taking the lead after 34 minutes. It was a goal that the Gunners should have prevented but, after wasting several chances to clear their lines, Gaston Ramirez fired the hosts in front.
The lead lasted seven minutes, though, as Theo Walcott, making his first appearance at St Mary's since leaving in 2006, whipped in a free-kick that Do Prado could only prod into his own goal.
It proved the evening's decisive moment as, try as they might, Southampton were unable to find a winner in a second half they dominated.
Danny Graham cracked home a late equaliser for Swansea City against Aston Villa to earn a 2-2 draw.
The visitors had fallen behind to Wayne Routledge's ninth-minute finish, after he surged clear of a static defence to round Villa goalkeeper Brad Guzan. But the outlook improved for Paul Lambert's side just before the break when Andreas Weimann netted an equaliser in the 44th minute.
Christian Benteke's penalty after Nathan Dyer's foul on Weimann put Villa ahead, as they looked to banish memories of dismal recent results. But Graham had the final say, with his powerful finish with time running out sparking glee among home supporters at Liberty Stadium.
A third-minute penalty from Mark Noble and Joey O'Brien's strike in the 26th minute gave West Ham United a 2-0 cushion against Norwich City at Upton Park. Russell Martin pulled one back for the visitors, but the Canaries could not find a leveller.
Fulham eased their relegation worries as Alexander Kacaniklic's second-half goal earned them a 2-1 win at West Bromwich Albion.
The Cottagers had slid towards the bottom three after winning only one of their previous 12 games but were well worth their second away success of the campaign.
Dimitar Berbatov's seventh goal of the season gave the Cottagers a half-time lead and, although Romelu Lukaku levelled after the break, Kacaniklic restored the visitors' advantage in the 58th minute.
Cardiff City stretched their lead to seven points at the top of the npower Championship with yesterday's 1-0 win at Birmingham City.
Joe Mason's 41st-minute strike made the difference, with the former Plymouth Argyle striker turning the ball in after an error from home goalkeeper Jack Butland.
Swindon Town substitute James Collins scored four goals as the Robins pummelled Portsmouth 5-0 in npower League One. Danny Hollands scored the hosts' other goal in a victory which lifted Paolo Di Canio's side to fifth place.
Leaders Tranmere Rovers won 1-0 at Bury thanks to Andy Robinson's left-footed strike in the 56th minute.