|United's Mexican striker Javier Hernandez gets acquainted with the Wigan defence [AFP]
Manchester United opened up a four-point lead at the top of the English Premier League with a dominant 4-0 win at Wigan Athletic on Saturday.
Mexican international Javier Hernandez scored twice before late goals from Wayne Rooney and substitute Fabio Da Silva gave the league leaders a comfortable win.
Edwin van der Sar, serving out his last season for United, put in a heroic performance by making a string of spectacular saves, with Wigan’s Victor Moses, Ben Watson and Maynor Figueroa all frustrated by the 40-year-old former Netherlands goalkeeper, who was making his 250th United appearance.
With 11 matches to play, United have 60 points. Arsenal are on 56 while third-placed Manchester City, who host Fulham on Sunday, are on 49.
After United drew a blank in the midweek 0-0 European Champions League draw with Olympique Marseille, manager Alex Ferguson restored Mexican international Hernandez to the line-up alongside Wayne Rooney, with Dimitar Berbatov relegated to the bench.
On a day when the five sides below United were not playing, including second-placed Arsenal, who face Birmingham City in the League Cup final on Sunday, Hernandez justified his selection with his eighth and nine league goals of the season.
"To win 4-0 away from home at a place like Wigan is very good, especially as it's a new pitch (at the DW Stadium) and Wigan were committed, particularly early on," Ferguson said.
"We have a big week ahead and it's a good start," added the Scot, whose side play away at fifth-placed Chelsea on Tuesday and then travel to Anfield to play bitter rivals Liverpool next Sunday.
Wigan, who are second from bottom in the standings and a point from safety, will feel hard done by the scoreline after making a bright start.
Colombian striker Hugo Rodallega saw his fifth minute snap shot fly over the bar before Moses used his pace to get behind the United defence and deliver a low centre across the six-yard area.
However, United soaked up the pressure and hit the hosts on the break, Hernandez pouncing after Nani had charged down the left wing to deliver a cross.
Wigan were much better than their position suggests and Van der Sar, who had already saved well to deny Moses, produced a fabulous stop to keep out Watson from close range.
Nani was prevented from making it 2-0 by the woodwork before half-time and, in an entertaining game, man-of-the-match Van der Sar denied Figueroa a rare goal in the 48th minute on the Honduras international's 100th Premier League appearance.
United finished strongly with Hernandez putting the game out of sight 16 minutes from time with a composed finish after being sent clear by Wayne Rooney, who had earlier been involved in an off-the-ball incident with Wigan midfielder James McCarthy.
Berbatov came off the bench to set up the third goal for Rooney, before Fabio made it 4-0 in the 87th, two minutes after coming in as a substitute.
In other games, Wolverhampton Wanderers moved off the foot of the table and out of the bottom three by thrashing 10-man Blackpool 4-0 at Molineux.
Sylvan Ebanks-Blake scored twice for Wolves, who made their extra man count after Blackpool's leading scorer DJ Campbell sent off just before half-time.
In other games, Jermaine Beckford scored twice to give Everton a much-needed 2-0 win at home to Sunderland and Ashley Young also netted two as Aston Villa won 4-1 at home to Blackburn Rovers, who had defender Ryan Nelsen sent off.
Newcastle United and Bolton drew 1-1.