Scroll to Photostream above left for match photos, click on the statistics tab for match stats; manager reaction below.
Robin van Persie bagged a magnificent first-half hat-trick to fire Manchester United to Barclays Premier League title glory.
Long since accepted as the summer signing that made the difference, Van Persie underlined his value by ensuring there was never a chance Aston Villa might prevent their hosts from collecting the victory required to celebrate championship No 20 in front of their own fans at Old Trafford.
Van Persie took just 81 seconds to sweep home Ryan Giggs' knock-back. Twelve minutes from the break he profited from more unselfishness from the veteran Welshman to complete the second three-timer of his United career.
In between he scored one of the best goals of the campaign as he followed Wayne Rooney's long ball throughout its 50-yard flight, waited for it to fall out of the sky then smashed a first-time volley into the corner.
It confirmed Sir Alex Ferguson's 13th title, and Giggs' for that matter. For Van Persie, at 29, it was number one. And boy did it show at the final whistle as he raised his arms on halfway before joining the celebrations that began almost immediately, even if the trophy presentation has to wait for three weeks. The Dutchman's contribution took his tally for the season to 24, ahead of Luis Suarez in the hunt for the Golden Boot.
United soon got into a Villa outfit who were too loose and afforded their opponents too much room until it was far too late to create any kind of a contest. For Villa did not just have Van Persie to look after, they also needed to subdue Wayne Rooney.
Again slotted into a central midfield station alongside Michael Carrick, Rooney took control, spraying passes around in a manner befitting Paul Scholes. The first went arrowing to the corner for Antonio Valencia to hunt down after barely a minute. Valencia held the ball up and rolled it back to Rafael Da Silva, whose deep cross found Giggs, and Van Persie did the rest.
It was part of a blistering start from the champions-elect, in which Van Persie almost scored again and nearly set up Shinji Kagawa and Rafael smashed a shot against the post from 20 yards.
Villa were unable to resist. On his 400th United appearance, Rooney launched a rocket from inside his own half that Van Persie's perfect technique allowed him to belt into the visitors' goal before it bounced. Van Persie completed his second United hat-trick, and his first since the August visit to Southampton, when Giggs broke through and elected to slip a pass inside rather than go for goal himself.
Van Persie's touchline joke with fellow Dutchman Alexander Buttner as he made his way towards the tunnel at half-time proving the hosts felt their work was done.
It showed in their second-half display too as Villa, acutely aware of the damage to their own relegation battle a heavy defeat could inflict, gamely went hunting a consolation. Yet even here, Van Persie was the prominent figure, heading a goalbound Andreas Weimann effort off the line.
Christian Benteke could have scored, after Rooney had gifted Villa possession close to his own penalty area, but David de Gea repelled that attempt. United briefly roused themselves only for Rooney to fire over from 20 yards. Kagawa also failed to find the target when he only had Brad Guzan to beat after a superb first touch.
But the hosts were counting down to the final whistle, as were their supporters, who spent the second half paying homage to a succession of past players who have contributed to previous successes. Their focus switched when referee Anthony Taylor brought the evening to an end though, and Van Persie was the man they owed most thanks to.
Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson: "At the end of the day, our consistency for the last 20 years has been unbelievable. [Van Persie’s second] was the goal of the century, for me, a marvellous hit."
"He has been unbelievable. His form in the first six months was fantastic. He had that spell where he had not scored a goal. Like every striker, he had a dry spell. But when he scored that penalty [against Stoke City], I thought, 'He is alive now'. Tonight, he was unbelievable, marvellous."
Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert: "The damage was done early. It was disappointing because you've got to come here and get a foothold in the game. But we lost a goal after about 60 seconds. The second goal was just an unbelievable finish.
"I knew it was going to be really tough but all credit to my team. They kept on going. It was important they didn't capitulate like we did at Stamford Bridge [losing 8-0]. We didn't and that was important for us.
"We had one or two chances ourselves. If Christian had scored with the score at 1-0 we'd have had a chance. We attacked them in the second half.
“But congratulations to Man Utd. They have been the best team all season. They work really hard, they work for each other, they have a mentality that has been here for years and years. The best team always wins the league."
|12 May 2013||v Swansea (H)|
|05 May 2013||v Chelsea (H)|
|19 May 2013||v West Brom (A)|
|28 Apr 2013||v Arsenal (A)|
|26 Dec 2014||v Man Utd (H)|
|28 Dec 2014||v Spurs (A)|