Manchester United moved four points clear at the top of the Premier League Sunday with a dominant victory over 10-man Wolves at Molineux.
United were already leading through Jonny Evans' strike, when Ronald Zubar was given his marching orders after receiving his second booking. From then on, United cruised home with goals from Danny Welbeck, Antonio Valencia and a Javier Hernandez double.
After their disappointing Europa League exit in Bilbao on Thursday, United were a little bit sluggish in the early-going at Molineux. Yet, there remained an air of inevitability about the champions, and it was no surprise when they got the breakthrough in the 21st minute.
Wayne Rooney's corner reached Michael Carrick at the back-post who laid it back into the center for Evans to smash home his first goal for the club from four yards out.
But it was the sending off of Zubar that was the catalyst for the onslaught that followed. Just over 10 minutes since receiving his first yellow card, the right-back went into a late challenge with his studs up, catching Welbeck. It was an easy decision for referee Anthony Taylor.
It was just four minutes later that United doubled their lead and effectively killed off the game as a contest.
A typical quick break by united saw Rooney play a clever ball in front of the onrushing Valencia down the right. The Ecuadorian was allowed to cut inside into the penalty area before smashing it into the far corner past Hennessy.
And United made it 3-0 in first-half injury time with Valencia, on his return to the side, again involved.
This time the winger received a pin-point cross-field pass from Evans before laying a simple cut back to Welbeck, who finished clinically with his side-foot. It was all too easy for the visitors.
Wolves defending perhaps was even more at fault early in the second-half as United hit another two quick-fire goals.
In the 56th minute, a short corner between Carrick and Valencia found its way to Rafael on the corner of the area. The Brazilian right-back, with no challenge in sight, curled a simple ball to the back post, where Hernandez was standing in acres of space to calmly head the ball home.
The embarrassment continued to build for the hapless Wolves defense, as United made it 5-0 with an almost carbon-copy goal just five minutes later.
After a lovely one-two between Valencia and Welbeck, the Ecuadorian chipped the ball over to the far post to find Hernandez, again lurking in space. This time the Mexican striker hit a crisp half-volley into the roof of the net.
Playing on Thursday night and then Sunday lunch time is never an enviable schedule for a Premier League manager and Sir Alex Ferguson will have been delighted to come through this contest almost without breaking sweat.
For Wolves, their second 5-0 defeat in the space of three games leaves them staring relegation firmly in the face. There may even be some within the hierarchy at the club who feel that another change of manager may be their only chance of attaining Premier League survival this season.