Cookie consent

We use cookies to improve your experience on this website. By continuing to browse our site you agree to our use of cookies. Tell me more | Cookie preferences

Van Persie treble fires Manchester United to 20th title

Story highlights

  • Robin van Persie nets all three goals as Manchester United clinch English title
  • Monday's 3-0 win over Aston Villa ends the Premier League reign of Manchester City
  • Win puts United 16 points clear of second-placed City with four games to play
  • Van Persie moves to top of EPL scoring charts with 24 goals this season

All the talk this season has been that Robin van Persie is the difference between winning the English Premier League title, or not.

Roberto Mancini wanted to sign him after his Manchester City side won a first championship in 44 years on the final day of the 2011-12 campaign. Much to his chagrin, even the deep pockets of the club's Abu Dhabi owners could not tempt the Dutchman.

Even worse for the Italian, and for Arsenal fans hoping he would stay in London, the 29-year-old decided to join Manchester United for what has proved to be a bargain initial $34 million.

Having never won a title at any of his previous clubs, the striker opted for Old Trafford -- and it has paid off handsomely.

His first-half hat-trick in Monday's 3-0 win over struggling Aston Villa clinched a record-extending 20th English crown for United, and put him back on top of the EPL scoring charts.

CNN FC: Do Bayern Munich need Guardiola?

    Just Watched

    CNN FC: Do Bayern Munich need Guardiola?

CNN FC: Do Bayern Munich need Guardiola? 22:46
PLAY VIDEO

Read: Suarez facing big ban for biting

While City's top scorer Carlos Tevez has 11 this season, Van Persie has 24 -- one more than Liverpool's Luis Suarez, who may miss the rest of this season after being charged with violent conduct for biting a Chelsea opponent on Sunday.

"I'm very happy but it's weird. I had to wait for so long for my first title and it's a great feeling," Van Persie said in a post-match interview after United moved 16 points clear of second-placed City.

Two of his goals were set up by 39-year-old Ryan Giggs, who claimed his 13th EPL title since starting his career with United.

The second was a spectacular volley following a lofted pass from England striker Wayne Rooney, which virtually ended the game as a contest as early as the 13th minute.

"It was a great ball from Wayne, so the only thing I had to do was guide it right and hit it properly and it went in great," said the Netherlands international, whose efforts this season will cost United an extra $2 million in add-on fees.

Read: Real Madrid 'most valuable club'

He went 10 games without a goal as United crashed out of the European Champions League, but has bounced back with five in the last three matches.

Rooney has had to play second fiddle in the goalscoring stakes, but was able to celebrate his 400th United appearance with an impressive performance from a deeper-lying role.

"It's what we've worked all year for and we've fully deserved it. We won this game in the first half and it is a fantastic night for us," Rooney said.

"When you lose the title it's hard to take, and the way we did it wasn't a nice feeling last time so we've all dug in deep and all worked together and done fantastic to put ourselves in the position tonight to finish the job off."

Aston Villa or Sharon Stone?

    Just Watched

    Aston Villa or Sharon Stone?

Aston Villa or Sharon Stone? 02:38
PLAY VIDEO
Exclusive: What makes Ibrahimovic tick?

    Just Watched

    Exclusive: What makes Ibrahimovic tick?

Exclusive: What makes Ibrahimovic tick? 03:48
PLAY VIDEO
PSG: One year on

    Just Watched

    PSG: One year on

PSG: One year on 04:59
PLAY VIDEO

Last season United blew an eight-point lead before surrendering the title in the final minutes as City snatched an injury-time victory.

This season United did not let up, while City dropped points against lesser teams.

"You can go on and on about losing a title but at the end of the day, our consistency for the last 20 years is unbelievable," said United manager Alex Ferguson, who has also won 13 titles since joining in 1986.

"The focus of the team was good, they focused on the challenge of City and came up trumps."

Read: EPL co-owner tops rich list

The 71-year-old, the most successful manager since the EPL began in 1992, acknowledged the contribution of Van Persie this season.

"He's been unbelievable, his early form in the first six months was fantastic. He had the spell where he didn't score (for 10 games) but he was unbelievable tonight."

Ferguson's team can break the EPL points record held by Chelsea with victories in the club's four remaining games.

"We've now got 84 points with four games left -- we've never done that," he said when asked where this season's achievement ranks.

"We've won most of our games, drawn three, lost four, and the goal tonight (Van Persie's volley) ... all the great goals we've scored over the years, from David Beckham through Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Eric Cantona, that goal has joined that. These players have joined the pedestal."

While the result will likely quell any further protests against United's U.S. owners, the Glazer family -- unpopular after their highly leveraged takeover in 2005 -- the situation is not so positive for another American in charge of an EPL club.

The defeat left Randy Lerner's Aston Villa three points above the relegation zone, having played one more match than the third-bottom team, Wigan.

Villa manager Paul Lambert was relieved his side did not suffer a repeat of December's 8-0 defeat at Chelsea, having gone behind after just 90 seconds against United and then trailed 3-0 after 32 minutes.

"We wanted to make sure it didn't happen again. Credit to them they kept on going against a brilliant side, the best in the country," Lambert said.

"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."

      Football Focus

    • After 20 years, more than 300 goals and a host of major honors, Thierry Henry has called time on his glittering football career.
    • He might be struggling to score goals for Liverpool, but Mario Balotelli's cheeky tweet about the British monarch hit the spot during the World Cup.
    • bpr south african soccor senzo meyiwa death _00000402.jpg

      Football world mourns South African captain Senzo Meyiwa who was shot and killed during a botched robbery in a township near Johannesburg.
    • German alleged jihadist Kreshnik B (R) listens to his lawyer Mutlu Guenal (L) as he arrives at the higher regional court in Frankfurt. His face is pixelated for legal reasons.

      Once part of Germany's largest Jewish sports club, now he's the first ISIS suspect to stand trial in a country left shocked by his alleged radicalization.
    • One goal in eight matches for new club Liverpool, and dumped by the Italian national team -- Mario Balotelli has yet to shine on his English return.
    • Ched Evans smiles during the Wales training session ahead of their UEFA EURO 2012 qualifier against England on March 25, 2011 in Cardiff, Wales.

      Should a convicted rapist, who has served their time in prison, be allowed to resume their old job? What if that job was as a high-profile football player?
    • Norwegian 15-year-old Martin Odegaard is the youngest player ever to feature in a European Championships qualifying match.