Manchester United FC clinched a record-extending 20th English top-flight title, their 13th in the Premier League era, with four games to spare thanks to a 3-0 victory against Aston Villa FC at Old Trafford.
Sir Alex Ferguson's side were given the opportunity to claim the title after second-placed Manchester City FC slipped to a 3-1 defeat at Tottenham Hotspur FC on Sunday and Robin van Persie's first-half hat-trick meant the result was never in doubt. "I feel very happy but it's weird," said Van Persie. "I had to wait so long for my first title. It's fantastic, just fantastic.
"This is our 20th title and I think one we deserved. [The volley to make it 2-0] is one of the best goals I have scored but it didn't really matter today. Now, we just have to enjoy this moment."
Indeed United's top-scorer was singled out for special praise after the match by Sir Alex. "I'm delighted for the players, the staff and the supporters," he said. "I think we deserved it. Our consistency has won us the league. [Van Persie's second goal] is absolutely a contender for goal of the season; maybe even goal of the century.
"The way he got his head down and over the ball – it was a truly magnificent strike. [Van Persie] was unbelievable tonight. You have to forget last season, our consistency over the last 20 years has unbelievable. The focus has been good and we've come up trumps."
Team-mate Wayne Rooney added: "We fully deserve it. When you lose the title like we did last year it's hard to take. We all dug in deep and worked together and we've done fantastically well to put ourselves in a position to finish the job off tonight."
Van Persie converted from close range to open the scoring on two minutes and the scored his second in some style in the 13th-minute, running on to Rooney's long pass and volleying majestically past Brad Guzan from the edge of the area. Van Persie kept his cool after collecting Ryan Giggs' pass to complete his hat-trick inside 33 minutes and take his league tally for the season to 24.
The 29-year-old was also on hand to clear Nathan Baker's header off the line at the start of the second half to maintain United's three-goal cushion. Villa struggled to break down a resilient United defence and the hosts passed up good opportunities, most notably Shinji Kagawa firing over with only Guzan to beat.
It mattered not, a 15th home win of the season (out of 17) securing a championship that takes them two clear of Liverpool FC in the all-time standings.
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|Last updated: 05/05/2013 00:57 CET|
|Man. United||3-0||Aston Villa|
Van Persie 2, 13, 33
Bennett 50, 52
|Venue: West Bromwich|
|1||Manchester United FC||34||84|
|2||Manchester City FC||33||68|
|5||Tottenham Hotspur FC||33||61|
|8||West Bromwich Albion FC||33||45|
|9||Swansea City AFC||33||42|
|10||West Ham United FC||34||42|
|13||Norwich City FC||34||38|
|15||Stoke City FC||34||37|
|16||Newcastle United FC||34||37|
|17||Aston Villa FC||34||34|
|18||Wigan Athletic FC||33||31|
|19||Queens Park Rangers FC||34||24|