Manchester United 3 Wigan 1
Manchester United 3 Wigan Athletic 1, Old Trafford, English Premier League, December 26, 2006. Premier League table toppers Manchester United won their fourth consecutive home game as they defeated mid-tablers Wigan Athletic by three goals to one at Old Trafford with the help of a brace by Cristiano Ronaldo and a single from Ole Gunnar Solksjaer.
The attendance of 76,000 at The Theatre of Dreams on Boxing Day 2006 created a new Premier League record and also the highest for a Manchester United match at Old Trafford. The home team enjoyed a flurry of opportunities to open the scoring in the first half of the game, but their strikers were denied by Wigan Athletic goalkeeper Chris Kirkland on each and every occasion. Cristiano Ronaldo replaced Darren Fletcher at the interval and the industrious marksman quickly made his presence felt as he put Manchester United into the lead with a header from a well-taken flag-kick by Paul Scholes in the forty-seventh minute of the Boxing Day fixture. The Portuguese, now smelling blood, found the back of the net again just a mere four minutes later when he scored a rebound after his initial effort had been parried by Kirkland, making it two-hil to the hosts. Inspired by his teammate, Ole Gunnar Solksjaer went on to add a third goal for Manchester United on fifty-nine minutes before Leighton Baines registered a late consolation for the visiting side from the penalty spot in the last minute of normal time after David Wright had been fouled inside the area by Mikael Silvestre.
Elsewhere on Boxing Day, second placed Chelsea were held to a surprise two-all draw against mid-table Reading at Stamford Bridge, Blackburn Rovers beat Liverpool by one goal to nil at Ewood Park through an early second half goal from former FC Porto forward Benni McCarthy, Manchester City defeated Sheffield United by an identical scoreline at Bramall Lane, Everton and Middlesbrough played out a goalless draw at Goodison Park, Arsenal overcame Watford by two-one at Vicarage Road, while Bolton Wanderers won by the exact same score against Newcastle United at Reebok Stadium, with French international Nicolas Anelka netting the winner for The Trotters twelve minutes into the second period. The Boxing Day results left Manchester United four points ahead of defending champions Chelsea, and as much as fourteen points clear of both Arsenal and Bolton Wanderers. Sir Alex Ferguson: “We needed a quick response to what happened in the first half and Cristiano Ronaldo is in such great form; it was an obvious move.” Manchester United Team: Edwin van der Sar, Wes Brown, Patrice Evra, Mikael Silvestre, Nemanja Vidic, John O’Shea, Ji-Sung Park, Paul Scholes, Wayne Rooney, Darren Fletcher, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Substitutes: Cristiano Ronaldo, Gabriel Heinze, Kieran Richardson, Louis Saha, Tomasz Kuszczak. Wigan Athletic Team: Chris Kirkland, Matt Jackson, Leighton Baines, Fitz Hall, David Wright, Emmerson Boyce, Kevin Kilbane, Andreas Johansson, Emile Heskey, Gary Teale, Svetoslav Todorov. Substitutes: Josip Skoko, David Cotterill, Denny Landzaat, Tomasz Cywka, Mike Pollitt.
Manchester United Quickfacts
Manchester United overcame Premier League newcomers Wigan Athletic by four goals to nil at Old Trafford on the fourteenth of December 2005 thanks to a double from Wayne Rooney and one goal each from Rio Ferdinand and Ruud van Nistelrooy, with the latter finding the net from the penalty spot.