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Shinji Kagawa awakening leads Manchester United rout

Mar 2, 2013, 1:04 PM EDT

Manchester United v Norwich City - Premier League Getty Images

Shinji Kagawa came into today’s match with two league goals in his Manchester United career. Over the course of 42 minutes, he pushed that to five, leading Manchester United to a 4-0 victory over Norwich City on Saturday.

The win moves Manchester United 15 points clear in England ahead of Manchester City’s Monday visit to Aston Villa. Even if the defending champions pick up three points at Villa Park, United would need to drop a point per round from now through May to lose this title.

Today’s game gave us more reason to think that’s impossible. Manchester United struggled through the first half, their frequently flawed selves plodding through a match they should have dominated. They were at home against a limited side. They should have blown the doors off this one in the first half-hour.

As the teams approached halftime, it was still 0-0, and only Kagawa’s late first half opener gave United a lead at intermission. Early in the second half, it didn’t get much better, but after Alex Ferguson changed things up, tweaks that included bringing on Danny Welbeck for the team’s leading scorer (Robin van Persie).

United went on to put up their number. Kagawa scored in the 76th and 87th minutes, with Wayne Rooney adding a stoppage time goal to his two assists.

Let’s put that another way. Ferguson has so much talent at his disposal, he was able to take off Robin ven Persie, many people’s best player in England, and his team got better. Even when his best player’s slumping, Ferguson has enough to dominate England.

The win continues an undefeated run in all competitions that’s lastest since Dec. 5. That streak gets tested Tuesday against Real Madrid.

In league, Manchester United hasn’t lost since their Nov. 17 trip to Carrow Road. They redeemed that today, their 22nd win in 27 games.

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