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Ferguson acclaims Van Persie as United secure title

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Robin Van Persie's first-half hat-trick set Manchester United on the road to the comfortable 3-0 victory over Aston Villa that secured the Premier League title. If United's 20th championship had become inevitable a few weeks previously, Van Persie underlined that his signing had been the key move in turning last year's runners-up into this year's clear leaders.

Van Persie's form was superb at the start of the season, helping United establish the lead that meant his recent indifferent performances haven't been of great importance (although United did face disappointment in the Champions League and domestic cup competitions).

Sir Alex Ferguson, not usually a manager to reach for superlatives, acknowledged Van Persie's importance. "He's been unbelievable,” Ferguson said. “I think that he has to take a lot of the credit. I think his goals tell you that, his performance levels told you that.”

Van Persie has scored 24 Premier League goals in his first season with United, and Ferguson made comparisons to another player who had transformed the side from the outset. "He has made as big an impact as any player I can imagine. Cantona was an incredible impact player, We had an expectation of him. He was sensational last year, but Arsène said he was better than I'd think after I'd done the deal and he was right. He has never disappointed us.”

The highlight of the match was Van Persie's precision volley for the second goal. "It was goal of the century for me,” the manager said. "It was marvellous – the technique with his head down, over the ball and just perfect timing. It was a magnificent strike.”

Van Persie was a little less excitable than his manager. "It doesn't matter who scored, as long as we won the game," the Dutchman said. “I had to wait so long for my first title. It is a great feeling. It is a fantastic team and fantastic players. It is a championship for every single one of them.”

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