Owen opens account for five-star United

WIGAN: Michael Owen scored his first Premier League goal in a Manchester United shirt as Sir Alex Ferguson's side stormed to a 5-0 victory at Wigan Athletic on Saturday.

The Premier League champions had suffered a rare and embarrassing midweek defeat at newly-promoted Burnley four days earlier.

But it was back to business as usual as Wayne Rooney netted a brace and Dimitar Berbatov also opened his account for the season to seal United's second win of the campaign.

United were forced to ensure a frustrating first half but their class told in the end with England striker Rooney producing an impressive performance.

After watching his side crash 1-0 defeat at Burnley in midweek, Ferguson made wholesale changes to his line-up.

He replaced the entire four-man midfield which started at Turf Moor while captain Gary Neville and Nemanja Vidic made their first starts of the season after long-term injuries.

United had managed just one goal from their first two games and Ferguson will not have been impressed with the way his side spurned a string of chances during a goalless first half.

They should have put the game out of sight in the opening 10 minutes alone. A fine move involving Nani ended with Wigan's Titus Bramble hacking off the line to deny Darren Fletcher in the fifth minute.

And just three minutes later Paul Scholes fired a glorious chance wide after Wigan's defence had been ripped apart by the excellent work of Fletcher and Dimitar Berbatov.

Even Rooney was finding the going tough. Twice before half time he found himself in good scoring positions but on each occasion, in the 18th and 32nd minutes, he was frustrated by Wigan keeper Chris Kirkland.

This was Wigan's ninth top-flight game against United and they were still searching for a first win over after eight straight defeats.

Yet Roberto Martinez can be proud of the way his side, which included debutant Mohamed Diame following his move from Spanish side Rayo Vallecano, battled.

But for a wonderful full-legnth save by Ben Foster to deny Jason Koumas's stinging effort, the hosts would have been ahead at the interval.

Wigan's confidence grew the longer the game remained goalless while United became more agitated. Scholes was booked for a cynical challenge on Jordi Gomez while Patrice Evra was also cautioned for his crude tackle on Charles N'Zogbia, which left the Wigan midfielder flat on his back in the 48th minute.

Antonio Valencia, who was given a warm reception on his return to the club which sold him to United for 17 million pounds in the close season, hardly covered himself in glory when he went down as though he had been shot in an attempt to win a free kick.

United's frustrations eased when Rooney, easily their most threatening player, outjumped Bramble to power Valencia's 56th-minute cross beyond the reach of Kirkland.

Hugo Rodallega, Wigan's Colombian striker, was denied an equaliser seconds later by Foster before Berbatov sealed the points in the 58th minute after hooking the ball past Kirkland from close range.

Wigan were shell-shocked and their afternoon went from bad to worse when Rooney added his second and his side's third after his 65th minute effort found the net after deflecting off Mario Melchiot's body.

And five minutes from time, Owen, who joined on a free from Newcastle in the close season, made it 4-0 with a trademark finish which will do his chances of earning an England recall no harm.