Man U crush West Brom 5-0 to set shutout record

Ronaldo's double rounded off Manchester United's 5-0 demolition of 10-man West Bromwich to complete an EPL record 11th match without conceding a goal.

updated: January 28, 2009 08:28 IST
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Cristiano Ronaldo's double rounded off Manchester United's 5-0 demolition of 10-man West Bromwich Albion to complete an English Premier League record 11th match without conceding a goal.

Goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar went a league record 1,032nd minute without conceding on Tuesday to surpass the mark of 925 set by Chelsea's Petr Cech in the 2004-05 season.

"I just needed to keep the concentration levels high and fire up the defenders and midfielders," Van der Sar said. "We are delighted with the record because we haven't even had a settled defense, with players injured and others coming in and out."

And United stalwart Ryan Giggs demonstrated his ongoing value to the team at 35 by providing Ronaldo's first goal after earlier helping to set up Dimitar Berbatov, Carlos Tevez and Nemanja Vidic.

"We had a ruthless streak about us for the first time this season," United manager Alex Ferguson said. "It's been a long time coming. We expected it to come because of the standard of forwards we have. Tonight was the first indication that it was there."

The defending champion established a three-point lead in the title race, but Liverpool can rejoin it at the top by beating Wigan on Thursday.

For now, the Reds have Aston Villa for company on 47 points after Emile Heskey scored on his debut to clinch a 1-0 win over Portsmouth.

Tottenham beat Stoke 3-1 to move three points ahead of its relegation rival, which was level with bottom-placed West Brom and three other teams on 21. Kenwyne Jones, who Spurs had hoped to sign, scored in Sunderland's 1-0 win over Fulham.

At the Hawthorns, the Red Devils took 22 minutes to get into their stride with Berbatov finding the net for the fifth time in seven matches.

Giggs located Berbatov from the right flank and the Bulgaria striker played a neat one-two with Michael Carrick before crisply finishing through Scott Carson's legs.

United gained a man-advantage in the 40th when referee Rob Styles dismissed Paul Robinson for a sliding challenge on Park Ji-Sung, described as "reckless" by Ferguson.

The Baggies didn't help their cause when Carson dropped a free kick from Giggs a minute before the break, allowing Tevez to sweep the loose ball into the net.

"The goal before halftime killed it for us," Ferguson said.

Giggs continued to provide goals after the break with the Welsh midfielder swinging in a corner that Vidic fiercely headed into the roof of the net on the hour - the center back's fifth goal of the season.

Five minutes later, Giggs, who holds United's all-time appearance record, swept down the left wing and whipped in a cross for Ronaldo to sidefoot home.

Ronaldo slotted past Carson again in the 73rd after Berbatov slid the ball to the Portugal winger.

At Fratton Park, Heskey took just 21 minutes to open his Villa account when the new signing from Wigan fired Gabby Agbonlahor's flick-on past David James.

Villa's sixth straight league away win has given manager Martin O'Neill renewed hope of staying in the Champions League qualification spots.

"We are making it a bit interesting and I'm delighted with how we are performing," O'Neill said. "The spirit in the side is first class. We've been without John Carew for two months and now Martin Laursen and Ashley Young are missing as well.

"If you had told me at the start of the season we would be doing so well without players like this then I'd just never have believed you."

The match at White Hart Lane was over by the 25th as Spurs raced three goals ahead.

Aaron Lennon established the lead after eight minutes after latching onto Jermain Defoe's pass, drifting past Andy Wilkinson and slotting through Thomas Sorensen's legs.

Defoe found the net himself in the 21st from strike partner Roman Pavlyuchenko's throughball. Michael Dawson soon scored the third when the unmarked defender nodded Luka Modric's cross past Sorensen.

After a trio of substitutions for Stoke, new striker James Beattie gave the visitors hope of a comeback by reducing the deficit in the 57th.