Javier Hernandez and Robin van Persie scored twice as Premier League leaders Manchester United coasted past Wigan to preserve their seven-point advantage.

The Mexican striker side-footed the opener after Ali Al Habsi had parried Patrice Evra's shot into his path.

United went 2-0 up when Van Persie turned Ivan Ramis and curled a sublime shot into the far corner.

Wigan were lethargic - Martinez

Hernandez lashed home Van Persie's deflected free-kick before the Dutchman turned in Danny Welbeck's low cross.

United's eighth win in nine league games maintained their grip on top spot in the table at the end of a busy Christmas schedule and provided a fitting way for manager Sir Alex Ferguson to celebrate turning 71 on New Year's Eve.

Wigan, in contrast, appear destined for their annual relegation fight after sliding to 17th place, just one point above the drop zone.

A lively start from United showed their determination to avoid a repeat of last April, when a shock 1-0 defeat at the DW Stadium contributed to them surrendering an eight-point lead to Manchester City in the title race and set Wigan on the road to safety.

The recalled Hernandez was a lively spearhead to United's attack and, after firing his first chance straight at Al Habsi from a narrow angle, he collected a Ryan Giggs pass and drilled into the net, only to be correctly denied by the linesman's flag.

Analysis

"It was every bit as comfortable as the scoreline would suggest. Sir Alex Ferguson played 4-4-2 and the two strikers scored two and could have had hat-tricks. United won by four but you could have picked any number such was their superiority over Wigan."

Another sublime delivery from Giggs almost provided Hernandez with a tap-in, but the ball was expertly whipped away from his toes by Maynor Figueroa.

With United in the ascendancy, Al Habsi was the busiest man on the field, saving a free-kick from Van Persie and a deflected drive from Rafael.

But when a corner from the right was never properly cleared, United's pressure finally bore fruit.

Evra picked up Jonny Evans's pass and unleashed a powerful drive, which was pushed one-handed by Al Habsi into the path of Hernandez, who side-footed first time into the roof of the net.

Al Habsi could do nothing to prevent United's second goal, which was down to the individual brilliance of Van Persie.

Found by Hernandez inside the area, the former Arsenal striker left Ramis on the floor with a sharp turn and whipped a right-footed shot into the net.

Emphatic result pleases Ferguson

United almost extended their lead shortly after the restart as Van Persie played Hernandez into space but the striker fired wastefully wide.

Wigan thought they had secured a lifeline when Arouna Kone turned in Franco Di Santo's low cross, but the Ivory Coast striker was ruled to have strayed a fraction offside.

United reacted to the scare with characteristic ruthlessness as Hernandez secured the points with his team's third goal. Van Persie's free-kick rebounded off the wall into the Mexican's path and was expertly drilled past Al Habsi.

A comfortable afternoon for United was complete when Van Persie capitalised on a horrible mix-up in the home side's defence to score his 19th goal of the season.

Jean Beausejour ran into his team-mate Emmerson Boyce and presented the ball to substitute Welbeck, whose square pass was easily turned in by the prolific Dutchman.

Lineup, Bookings (2) & Substitutions (6)

Wigan Athletic

  • 26 Al Habsi
  • 05 Caldwell Booked (Stam - 69' )
  • 17 Boyce
  • 21 Ramis
  • 31 Figueroa
  • 04 McCarthy
  • 10 Maloney (McManaman - 86' )
  • 16 McArthur
  • 22 Beausejour
  • 02 Kone
  • 09 Di Santo (Gomez - 70' )

Substitutes

  • 12 Pollitt
  • 23 Stam
  • 25 Golobart
  • 06 Jones
  • 14 Gomez
  • 15 McManaman
  • 19 Boselli

Manchester United

  • 01 De Gea
  • 02 Rafael
  • 03 Evra
  • 05 Ferdinand (Smalling - 68' Booked )
  • 06 Evans
  • 11 Giggs
  • 16 Carrick (Kagawa - 68' )
  • 18 Young (Welbeck - 78' )
  • 23 Cleverley
  • 14 Hernandez
  • 20 Van Persie

Substitutes

  • 13 Lindegaard
  • 12 Smalling
  • 15 Vidic
  • 07 Valencia
  • 22 Scholes
  • 26 Kagawa
  • 19 Welbeck
Ref: Marriner
Att: 20,342

Match Stats

Shots

7 14

On target

3 9

Corners

1 6

Fouls

13 5

Live Text Commentary

92:12 Full time

Full Time The final whistle is blown by the referee.

90:00 +1:07

The ball is sent over by Jean Beausejour.

88:57

Ronnie Stam sends in a cross, clearance made by Chris Smalling.

87:34

Danny Welbeck provided the assist for the goal.

87:34 Goal scored

Goal! - Robin van Persie - Wigan 0 - 4 Man Utd Robin van Persie scores a goal from inside the six-yard box to the bottom right corner of the goal. Wigan 0-4 Man Utd.

86:55

Maynor Figueroa has an effort at goal from outside the penalty box missing to the wide right of the goal.

85:36 Substitution

Substitution Callum McManaman joins the action as a substitute, replacing Shaun Maloney.

85:11

Maynor Figueroa takes a shot. Blocked by Chris Smalling.

84:31

Centre by Ronnie Stam, clearance by Jonny Evans.

84:21

Centre by Maynor Figueroa.

83:40

Short corner taken by Ronnie Stam from the right by-line.

83:30

The ball is sent over by Jean Beausejour, clearance made by Patrice Evra.

83:08

Unfair challenge on Shaun Maloney by Danny Welbeck results in a free kick. Shaun Maloney restarts play with the free kick.

81:18

Strike on goal comes in from Jordi Gomez from the free kick.

81:18 Booking

Booking Chris Smalling is cautioned.

81:07

Unfair challenge on Arouna Kone by Chris Smalling results in a free kick.

80:53

Patrice Evra crosses the ball.

77:03 Substitution

Substitution Danny Welbeck joins the action as a substitute, replacing Ashley Young.

77:03

Jordi Gomez produces a left-footed shot from the edge of the box and misses to the right of the goal.

76:45

The ball is delivered by Patrice Evra.

75:55

Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Ashley Young by Maynor Figueroa. Free kick taken by Tom Cleverley.

75:22

Ashley Young sends in a cross, save made by Ali Al Habsi.

74:31

Shaun Maloney takes a shot. Blocked by Jonny Evans.

72:07

Ronnie Stam takes a shot. Blocked by Jonny Evans.

71:25

Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Jonny Evans by Jordi Gomez. Free kick taken by Jonny Evans.

70:44

Jordi Gomez challenges Jonny Evans unfairly and gives away a free kick. David De Gea restarts play with the free kick.

70:07

A cross is delivered by Shaun Maloney.

67:51 Substitution

Substitution Franco Di Santo goes off and Jordi Gomez comes on.

67:51 Substitution

Substitution Ronnie Stam comes on in place of Gary Caldwell.

67:51 Substitution

Substitution Chris Smalling replaces Rio Ferdinand.

67:51 Substitution

Substitution Michael Carrick leaves the field to be replaced by Shinji Kagawa.

67:01

Robin van Persie takes a shot from just outside the penalty area which clears the crossbar.

65:58

Javier Hernandez is ruled offside. Ali Al Habsi takes the indirect free kick.

62:55

The assist for the goal came from Robin van Persie.

62:55 Goal scored

Goal! - Javier Hernandez - Wigan 0 - 3 Man Utd Javier Hernandez scores a goal from inside the area to the bottom left corner of the goal. Wigan 0-3 Man Utd.

61:48

Free kick taken by Robin van Persie. Robin van Persie takes a shot. Blocked by Jean Beausejour.

61:48 Booking

Booking Gary Caldwell is cautioned.

61:43

Free kick awarded for a foul by Gary Caldwell on Rafael Da Silva.

59:46

Ashley Young produces a cross, Javier Hernandez takes a shot from close range clearing the crossbar.

58:51

Arouna Kone gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Jonny Evans. Indirect free kick taken by David De Gea.

58:28

The official flags Arouna Kone offside. David De Gea takes the free kick.

57:12

Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Franco Di Santo by Michael Carrick. Maynor Figueroa restarts play with the free kick.

55:32

Shot by Javier Hernandez from outside the box goes over the target.

54:45

The ball is swung over by Ryan Giggs, clearance by Maynor Figueroa.

54:37

The ball is sent over by Ryan Giggs.

53:51

Robin van Persie fouled by Maynor Figueroa, the ref awards a free kick. Tom Cleverley takes the direct free kick.

52:52

Ashley Young takes a shot. Maynor Figueroa gets a block in.

52:37

Centre by Robin van Persie, Ivan Ramis gets a block in.

52:24

The ball is sent over by Michael Carrick.

50:02

Javier Hernandez produces a right-footed shot from deep inside the penalty box which goes wide of the right-hand upright.

48:29

A cross is delivered by Ryan Giggs.

47:57

Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Ashley Young by Franco Di Santo. Rafael Da Silva takes the free kick.

45:01

The second half has started.

45:00 +1:04 Half time

Half Time The players leave the pitch at half time.

44:16

The official flags Javier Hernandez offside. Free kick taken by Gary Caldwell.

42:33

Assist on the goal came from Javier Hernandez.

42:33 Goal scored

Goal! - Robin van Persie - Wigan 0 - 2 Man Utd A goal is scored by Robin van Persie from deep inside the penalty box to the top right corner of the goal. Wigan 0-2 Man Utd.

41:45

Javier Hernandez crosses the ball.

40:29

James McCarthy crosses the ball.

38:35

The ball is swung over by Emmerson Boyce. The ball is swung over by Jean Beausejour.

38:08

Centre by James McArthur, Jonny Evans manages to make a clearance.

37:03

Inswinging corner taken from the left by-line by Ashley Young. Patrice Evra is penalised for a handball. Ali Al Habsi restarts play with the free kick.

36:52

Ryan Giggs sends in a cross, clearance by Maynor Figueroa.

35:01

The ball is delivered by Jonny Evans, Patrice Evra takes a shot. Save made by Ali Al Habsi.

34:58

Patrice Evra provided the assist for the goal.

34:58 Goal scored

Goal! - Javier Hernandez - Wigan 0 - 1 Man Utd Javier Hernandez finds the net with a goal from close range high into the middle of the goal. Wigan 0-1 Man Utd.

34:32

Robin van Persie takes a inswinging corner to the near post, clearance by Franco Di Santo.

34:19

A cross is delivered by Ashley Young, Jean Beausejour gets a block in.

33:55

The ball is delivered by Robin van Persie, Tom Cleverley takes a shot. Blocked by Ivan Ramis.

33:28

Corner taken short by Robin van Persie.

33:14

The ball is sent over by Rafael Da Silva, James McArthur gets a block in.

32:26

Rafael Da Silva takes a shot. Save made by Ali Al Habsi.

31:54

Foul by James McCarthy on Tom Cleverley, free kick awarded. Free kick taken by Michael Carrick.

30:20

Corner taken by Robin van Persie from the right by-line played to the near post, Emmerson Boyce manages to make a clearance.

30:07

Corner taken by Robin van Persie played to the near post, Ivan Ramis manages to make a clearance.

29:17

Gary Caldwell concedes a free kick for a foul on Ashley Young. Robin van Persie delivers the ball from the free kick left-footed from right wing, Ali Al Habsi makes a save.

28:29

Jonny Evans fouled by Arouna Kone, the ref awards a free kick. David De Gea restarts play with the free kick.

27:57

Corner taken by Robin van Persie played to the near post, Emmerson Boyce manages to make a clearance.

27:43

The ball is sent over by Ryan Giggs, Maynor Figueroa makes a clearance.

26:34

Gary Caldwell challenges Javier Hernandez unfairly and gives away a free kick. Tom Cleverley takes the free kick.

25:47

The ball is swung over by Ashley Young, save made by Ali Al Habsi.

19:09

Shot from just outside the area by Jean Beausejour goes over the bar.

17:01

The ball is sent over by Rafael Da Silva.

11:07

Javier Hernandez is ruled offside. Ali Al Habsi takes the free kick.

10:27

The ball is sent over by Ashley Young.

6:07

Arouna Kone challenges Rio Ferdinand unfairly and gives away a free kick. Free kick taken by Rio Ferdinand.

5:10

Franco Di Santo produces a cross, clearance made by Jonny Evans.

4:30

The referee blows for offside. David De Gea takes the indirect free kick.

3:32

Javier Hernandez takes a shot. Save made by Ali Al Habsi.

2:47

Jonny Evans challenges Shaun Maloney unfairly and gives away a free kick. Shaun Maloney restarts play with the free kick.

1:54

The referee blows for offside against Javier Hernandez. Gary Caldwell restarts play with the free kick.

1:08

Unfair challenge on Arouna Kone by Rio Ferdinand results in a free kick. Free kick taken by Shaun Maloney.

0:22

Franco Di Santo challenges Patrice Evra unfairly and gives away a free kick. Free kick taken by Patrice Evra.

0:00

The ref blows the whistle to begin the match.

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