Ferguson defends Young over dive claims

MANCHESTER UNITED (4) vs WIGAN ATHLETIC (0)

MANCHESTER United manager Sir Alex Ferguson admitted Ashley Young had “gone down quite easily” but denied he was a serial diver after the champions reopened a five-point gap at the top of the Premier League.

For the second time in a week Young found himself accused of conning the referee, after the England winger’s tumble over Aston Villa’s Ciaran Clark allowed Wayne Rooney to open the scoring from the penalty spot.

Rooney, his strike partner Danny Welbeck and substitute Nani plundered further goals as United responded to Manchester City’s recent resurgence, but Ferguson was left having to defend Young again.

“He has gone down quite easily but it was a penalty. He was definitely brought down,” said the Scot, who conceded Young was in danger of earning an unwanted reputation as a diver.

“I think in that situation, in the last week or two, yeah. I have never seen that in him. It is not a habitual thing with him. He was brought down. He just made the most of it.”

Villa manager Alex McLeish stopped short of accusing Young but called the penalty award “a very soft decision”.

Welbeck slid in at the far post to add the second after left-back Patrice Evra’s low cross eluded the visitors’ defence just before half-time, and United pressed home their advantage after the break.

Rooney gathered Antonio Valencia’s cut-back to fire a deflected third goal in the 73rd minute, and Nani completed the rout from close range in injury time to leave Villa six points above the relegation zone.