Man United 4 Wigan 0: Scholes marks 700th appearance with goal in Old Trafford rout
16:57 GMT, 15 September 2012
Paul Scholes marked his 700th Manchester United appearance by sending the Red Devils to their biggest win of the season after victory over Wigan at Old Trafford.
Sir Alex Ferguson described Scholes' cameo at Southampton last month as like someone 'opening a door'.
On Saturday, the veteran midfielder did not just open it. He sent it crashing off its hinges.
Opener: Scholes scored on his 700th appearance
Man Utd: Lindegaard, Da Silva, Ferdinand, Vidic (Evans 77), Buttner, Nani, Scholes (van Persie 71), Carrick, Giggs (Powell 71), Hernandez, Welbeck. Subs not used: De Gea, Valencia, Cleverley, Kagawa.
Scorers: Scholes 51, Hernandez 63, Buttner 66, Powell 82.
Wigan: Al Habsi, Boyce, Caldwell, Ramis, Figueroa, Maloney (Gomez 59), McCarthy, McArthur, Beausejour (Jones 69), Kone, Di Santo. Subs not used: Pollitt, Crusat, Watson, Boselli, Miyaichi.
Booked: Boyce, McArthur.
Referee: Michael Oliver.
Mixing a typically astute performance
with some of those thunderous challengers for which he is noted,
Scholes also broke the deadlock with his 155th United goal.
Few could have been converted in such
ease as he tapped home after Ali Al Habsi had pushed Nani's low cross
straight into his path.
Javier Hernandez, who missed a
first-half penalty, bagged a second when he turned home Alexander
Buttner's misdirected shot, then the Dutchman capped a fine debut by
driving home the hosts' third, putting more pressure on an
underperforming Patrice Evra, who watched from the stand.
Robin van Persie was introduced 19
minutes from time but it was his fellow substitute Nick Powell who
wrapped up the win on his debut, blasting in from 20 yards.
Although he declared Van Persie and
Shinji Kagawa fit on Friday, Ferguson opted to leave both men on the
bench as he cast an eye towards the start of his side's Champions League
campaign against Galatasaray on Wednesday.
Even with Wayne Rooney missing, the alternative was not too shabby as Hernandez was paired with Danny Welbeck.
Praised for his performances at Euro
2012 and again for England against Ukraine in midweek, Welbeck is a
player of immense potential.
It was sad therefore to see what he did after just three minutes.
Level pegging: neither side managed to score in the first half
Charging into the Wigan box, Welbeck
was greeted by Ali Al Habsi, who quickly decided to pull out of his
challenge, wisely deeming it to be unsafe.
Welbeck went down anyway. And referee Michael Oliver bought it.
Hopefully, Welbeck will learn from such incidents and avoid them in future.
The post-script at least was fitting as Al Habsi turned away Hernandez's spot-kick with a smart, low save to his left.
Initially, United made light of their setback.
Paying the penalty: Ali Al-Habsi saved Hernandez's spot-kick
With veteran duo Ryan Giggs – making
his 600th Premier League appearance – and Scholes flitting in and out of
the game and Alexander Buttner looking dangerous on his debut, the
hosts carved out a succession of opportunities.
Welbeck flashed a volley wide from Nani's cross before having a shot deflected wide by Gary Caldwell.
Scholes, after robbing Shaun Maloney with a thunderous tackle, also had a piledriver blocked as the pressure intensified.
After Welbeck had headed over,
Hernandez and Giggs combined to send Nani clear but the Portugal
wide-man, whose United future is in doubt, sent a delicate chip sailing
harmlessly over the bar.
Surviving so many scares gave Wigan added belief.
Scramble: Scholes beats the Wigan defenders to the loose ball
A team who until April had never even
taken a point off their north-west neighbours, Wigan should have gone
in front when Jean Beausejour floated a cross to the far post.
When Rio Ferdinand, who was
celebrating his own milestone – 400 United games – missed it, at the
very least Arouna Kone should have tested Anders Lindegaard, who had
been preferred in goal to David de Gea.
The moment was too much for Kone
though and as he jabbed at the ball with the underneath of his boot, he
could only send it rolling wide.
Making amends: Hernandez doubled United's lead
Kone stooped to send a header over immediately after the restart, leading to a sense of agitation amongst the home support.
Not for the first time, Scholes settled the nerves.
At 37, he may not longer be capable of those old midfield bursts. However, his sense of timing remains impeccable.
If anyone doubts Michael Carrick's
abilities, they would have been answered by a brilliant pass through the
Wigan defence for Nani, who, in an all-too-infrequent example of
striker-friendly crossing, drove the ball straight at the visitors'
Mobbed: Buttner's team-mates rush to celebrate his goal
Al Habsi had to do something.
Unfortunately for the Omani, he could
only push the ball out to Scholes, who had sauntered in unnoticed and,
from four yards, could not miss.
Wigan clung on for a little while
longer but when Giggs teed up Buttner, Hernandez was able to turn the
Dutchman's misdirected shot home thanks to Emmerson Boyce's failure to
move up as Wigan tried to play offside.
One for the future: Powell took his goal well
Buttner was not finished either.
With Patrice Evra looking down from
the stands, the Dutchman forced his way past Boyce and James McCarthy
before driving a shot from the tightest of angles, which flew in off Al
Powell made a remarkable first contribution for United when he latched onto a loose ball and drove home eight minutes from time.
Special guest: British Olympic taekwondo gold medallist Jade Jones was presented with a United shirt before the game