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Man United beats Wolves 4-1 in Premier League

Updated: December 10, 2011, 13:40

Manchester United's Wayne Rooney, center left, is congratulated by teammate Danny Welbeck after scoring against Wolverhampton Wanderers during their English Premier League soccer match at Old Trafford Stadium, Manchester, England, Saturday Dec. 10, 2011. (AP Photo/Jon Super)

MANCHESTER, England(AP) Wayne Rooney ended his goal drought by scoring twice as Manchester United responded to its midweek Champions League exit with a 4-1 victory over Wolverhampton Wanderers on Saturday.

Rooney hadn't scored in eight Premier League matches since Oct. 1 but his double and two goals from Nani took United to within two points of leader Manchester City, which plays at Chelsea on Monday.

United failed to make it through the Champions League group stage for only the third time after being beaten by FC Basle on Wednesday.

"On Wednesday, we worked our socks off and didn't get a break, but against Wolves we worked our socks off and got the breaks. Some of the football was fantastic,'' United manager Alex Ferguson said. "They're all disappointed about Wednesday and the young players haven't experienced a bad defeat like that before, but it will be a good thing for them.

"You hope (the win over Wolves puts City under pressure) but the important thing is to have our game right. If we get to New Year's Day in the frame, we've got a great chance in the second half of the season. Wayne goes in spurts and he scored 11 in the early part of the season. We're now in an important part of the season and if he can do that again it will put us in good fettle.''

Nani gave the hosts an early lead, which was doubled by Rooney in the 27th minute before Steven Fletcher pulled one back for Wolves just after halftime. But Nani then added a third and Rooney fired in a fourth.

Ferguson had spoken of his certainty that his players would respond to their disappointment, and they certainly looked in the mood from the very start against Wolves.

Fletcher, however, was actually the first to threaten by hitting a low shot that flew narrowly wide after a quick break in the opening minute. But after that, United was dominant and should have been more than two goals ahead at the interval.

Rooney was a constant threat but Michael Carrick went the closest with a powerful header that flew just past the top corner of Wayne Hennessey's goal.

The breakthrough came in the 17th minute, when Nani was afforded the space to cut in from the left and find the bottom corner of the net with a powerful low drive.

Ten minutes later, Rooney made it 2-0 after receiving a pass from Nani, then taking a touch to give himself the room to thump a shot past Hennessey from 20 yards.

Rooney was again denied by Hennessey after a sliding pass from the impressive Danny Welbeck, while Nani was also thwarted by the Wales goalkeeper just before halftime.

Beaten in each of their away matches since the opening day, Wolves responded in the second minute after halftime.

Matthew Jarvis beat Chris Smalling and crossed to the far post for Fletcher, who rose above Patrice Evra to find the top corner with a powerful header.

But United moved two goals ahead once again when Jones fed Valencia and the Honduran's cross from the right was turned in by Nani in the 56th minute.

Rooney added his second with a first-time shot after another fine cross from the right from Valencia.

Wolves manager Mick McCarthy mocked the recent criticism of United.

"For all the hype and talk about their demise, which is nonsense, you look at the players on the pitch and some of them are young and developing,'' he said. "I know (Ferguson) isn't immune to pressure and I just find it refreshing when the best managers are under pressure and getting stick and if he can get it, it makes me feel better.''

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