ROBIN VAN PERSIE fired a stunning first-half hat-trick to secure Manchester United their 20th league title.
The Dutchman opened the scoring against Aston Villa after just two minutes with a simple tap in.
Van Persie doubled United’s advantage with a wonder volley from Wayne Rooney’s lofted ball.
And he then completed his treble from six yards before the break to confirm Alex Ferguson’s side as Premier League champions with four games to go.
For Villa, this was a painful defeat and they go into the run-in scrapping for their top-flight lives.
Paul Lambert’s men are only three points clear of the drop zone and their goal difference was not done any favours by Van Persie & Co.
The visitors came to United hoping to delay the title celebrations by at least one week.
But their game plan went up in smoke after just two minutes when Wayne Rooney, resuming his new midfield role, played Antonio Valencia down the right.
The winger’s cross was met by Ryan Giggs at the back post who played in Van Persie for an easy finish.
United’s top scorer nearly doubled his tally immediately after with a cushioned volley which fizzed just over Brad Guzan’s goal.
Rafael then hit the post with a powerful 25-yard drive before Christian Benteke curled an effort just over at the other end after a swift Villa counter.
But United were in irresistible mood and their second goal after 13 minutes was worthy of any league-winning strike.
Rooney was again the architect with a sublime ball over the top.
But the goal was all about Van Persie as the Dutchman latched on to the England man’s pass with an amazing left-foot volley – a contender for goal of the season.
It was now party time at Old Trafford and a third swiftly came 12 minutes before the break.
Shinji Kagawa set Giggs running down the left and the Welshman picked out Van Persie in the six yard box to fire in his 24th goal of the campaign and complete his own memorable treble.
The former Arsenal hitman was even helping out in his own box after the break, clearing Andreas Weimann’s header off the line.
Villa were much better in the second half and Benteke forced David de Gea to dive low to his left.
The Spaniard then had to tip over Karim El Ahmadi’s dipping 25-yard strike.
But Lambert’s men were unable to get on the scoresheet as Kagawa missed with the goal at his mercy after controlling Valencia’s pin-point accurate cross.
There was to be no fourth goal for United but Van Persie had already done the damage.
And the £24million man is now likely to receive a guard of honour when he returns to face old club Arsenal at the Emirates for the first time next week.
Source: The Sun Newspaper