United had the sealed by halftime and the second half was little more than a practice match, while Wolves’catalogue of errors served as perfect ad for their relegation credentials.
In a season marred by European failure, United seem to have hit form at the most important part of the domestic season, as they produced an excellent performance, the perfect response following Thursday’s capitulation against Athletic Bilbao.
United went into the game with 12 wins in the last 15 and playing as league leaders for the first time since October. Playing as league leaders they definitely did as Rooney, Welbeck and Hernandez ran riot, while Valencia was back to his mesmerising best as he tore Wolves up. Scholes – playing his 689th game for the club overtaking Bill Foulkes to become the club’s third-highest appearance maker – and Carrick were their usual composed self in midfield while the back four enjoyed a quiet afternoon which had started with both teams and sets of fans united in a minute of applause for Fabrice Muamba.
Wolves, a side whose dismal off the pitch is mirrored by the players’ performances, did themselves no favours after being reduced to 10-man with the game only 40 minutes old when Ronald Zubar clattered Danny Welbeck.
The challenge epitomised Wolves’s season of misjudgments on and off the pitch and the Wolves right-back was shown a second yellow card, having previously being booked for a lunge on Wayne Rooney.
Rooney’s corner found Carrick who had drifted away unmarked and the midfielder headed the ball towards the centre of the box where Evans finished coolly, with the swiftness of a man more used to scoring goals rather than preventing them.
Wolves, whose only chance of the first half came through a Steven Fletcher header that went narrowly wide, could have been behind even earlier as Rafael’s cross from the right was inches away from making contact with Hernandez’s leg. Terry Connor’s side capitulated after Zubar was sent for an early shower, though, as they conceded twice before halftime.
The first of the two goals was a footballing lesson on counter-attacking football. Following a Wolves corner, Rooney received the ball in his own half and his lofted pass down the right flank found Valencia, whose unchallenged 40 yards run was capped with a brilliant right-footed finish.
Two minutes later, the Ecuadorian turned provider when, after being picked out by a superb cross-field pass by Jonny Evans, he pulled the ball back for Welbeck, whose first time finish gave United a 3-0 lead at halftime.
United should have probably had a penalty earlier on, when Richard Stearman was fortunate to escape punishment for his body check on Hernandez inside the box, a decision that left the Mexican incensed.
Chicharito placated his fury in the second half as he scored his side’s fourth and fifth goal.
With 11 minutes gone in the second half, Wolves defence completely switched off allowing Rafael to cross unchallenged and then forgetting Hernandez in acres of space a few yards away from the goal leaving him to head the ball past Hennessey.
Wolves are fighting to maintain their Premier League status but such shambolic defending explains why they’ve now lost six on the bounce and conceded 14 goals in their last 4 games for a meager return of one point.
The fifth goal was again produced after some splendid work by Valencia. The United winger played a clever one-two with Welbeck who back-heeled the ball back to his teammate before Valencia’s cross found Hernandez at the far post where the Mexican made no mistakes, sidefooting the ball into the roof of the net for his tenth league goal of the season.
Fabio and Pogba replaced Evra and Carrick and Wolves’ only chances in the second half came late on as DeGea saved from a Steven Fletcher header and Michael Kightly effort from outside the box, before Ward missed the simplest off the header.
United could have had a sixth goal but Hennessey produced an excellent save to deny Welbeck after yet more appalling defending from Wolves.
Fergie and his players will now be interested spectators as City welcome Chelsea on Wednesday night, looking to reduce the gap. In the meantime, United have ticked off another game.