Robin van Persie was the star of the show on this day in 2013 as Manchester United beat Aston Villa 3-0 at Old Trafford to put memories of the previous season well behind them.
Manchester United 3 Aston Villa 0
‘RVP’ bagged a memorable hat-trick in front of over 75,000 spectators as Alex Ferguson’s United cruised past Villa to win their 20th Premier League title, casting aside the heartache of 2012 when Sergio Aguero led Manchester City to glory with just seconds remaining.
Any fears over a possible slip-up 12 months on were quickly removed against Villa as it took £24million summer signing Robin van Persie just 83 seconds to break the deadlock.
It was a piece of opportune finishing from the Dutchman as he stole in at the far post to poke home after Ryan Giggs had directed an Antonio Valencia cross back across goal.
If the first goal was unmissable, the second was simply incredible. The Red Devils countered quickly before Van Persie smashed a running volley from range past Brad Guzan after Wayne Rooney’s searching ball.
Sky Sports described the goal:
“Van Persie made it 2-0 with a breath-taking, first-time volley, which Ferguson would later describe as the ‘goal of the Century’, courtesy of a stunning, long pass from Wayne Rooney, who amid a supposedly out-of-form season has scored or created 22 goals in 25 Premier League appearances.”
The BBC were also in awe of the strike:
“It was a world-class strike worthy of putting the seal on a title that has been in United’s grasp since early February, when they first moved 12 points clear, but he and United did not stop there.”
Indeed they did not stop there, as RVP went on to complete his hat-trick before half time and wrap up the title in grand style.
Shinji Kagawa played through Ryan Giggs who, instead of electing to shoot, set up his team-mate Van Persie, who slotted home after navigating an opening.
The result was a 20th league title and a fitting send off for Sir Alex, as he announced on May 8 that he would retire from his position.
United went on to appoint David Moyes and sacked him exactly a year later on April 22 2014.
Manchester United: De Gea, Rafael, Evra, Jones, Evans, Valencia, Giggs, Carrick, Kagawa, Rooney, Van Persie. Substitutes: Lindegaard, Ferdinand, Buttner, Nani, Cleverley, Hernandez, Welbeck.
Goals: Van Persie 2, 13, 33
Aston Villa: Guzan, Lowton, Vlaar, Baker, Bennett, Westwood, Delph, Weimann, N’Zogbia, Agbonlahor, Benteke. Substitutes: El Ahmadi, Clark,Given, Bent, Holman, Sylla, Bowery.
What they said
Sir Alex heaped praise upon his team after the win.
“You can go on and on about losing the title (last season),” Ferguson told Sky Sports after the win over Villa. “I think we have been second maybe five or six times in my time.
“We can think back to the last game at West Ham (in 1995). How we did not win was unbelievable. Last year, it was the last game of the season.
“At the end of the day, our consistency for the last 20 years has been unbelievable.”
He was similarly glowing of his star man Van Persie, who went on to finish with 30 goals in all competitions that season.
“It 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.
“He has made a fantastic contribution to our season. In terms of impact he has as big as an impact as anyone I can imagine.