United dedicate cup win to injured Smith

Manchester United skipper Gary Neville dedicated the Carling Cup final victory over Wigan to injured striker Alan Smith

Smith dislocated an ankle and broke a leg last week against Liverpool and faces a lengthy spell on the sidelines.

A brace from Wayne Rooney and further goals from Louis Saha and Cristiano Ronaldo saw United ease to victory at the Millennium Stadium, with the players wearing T-shirts in support of Smith afterwards.

“We were devastated last week because of what happened to Alan,” Neville said on Sky Sports.

“He can’t be here today but this victory is for him.”

The Carling Cup is likely to be United's only silverware in a season of mixed fortune, suffering poor form in the Champions League and falling well behind Chelsea in the league race.

“It’s desperately important to win,” Neville added on Sky Sports.

“We’ve taken a lot of criticism and we have to win trophies, hopefully this is the start of many more.”

Rooney opened the scoring in the 33rd minute with a confident finish past Latics goalkeeper John Filan, who had come on for the injured Michael Pollitt early on.

Saha bundled in a second just after the break before Ronaldo struck. Rooney finished from close range to complete the scoring and also put a definite end to his personal goal drought.

“It’s amazing,” said Rooney. “I’m delighted with the two goals. I haven’t been scoring but the other players have been doing it and we’ve been winning.”

Saha added: “We wanted a trophy this season, it’s been difficult but it’s a great trophy to win.”

Rio Ferdinand was rarely troubled by Wigan's attack, and the United defender was delighted to win in a final after last season's defeat to Arsenal in the FA Cup.

“It’s a fantastic feeling, a great day for us,” Ferdinand said. “Smudger (Smith) is in everyone’s thoughts and hopefully he’ll come back fighting fit.

“It takes a lot to get over losing a cup final but I’ve got a winners’ medal now, I’m delighted with it and want to add to it.”

Latics captain Arjan de Zeeuw added on Sky Sports: “People say ‘it’s great you’re in a final’, but we wanted to win. We were never near it so we’re disappointed

“We made some critical errors. They finished their chances well, we did try and 4-0 is a bit flattering maybe.”

Wigan boss Paul Jewell has now lost four successive matches to United by 4-0 scorelines, during his time with Bradford and the Latics.

He was not helped today by first-choice goalkeeper Mike Pollitt injuring a hamstring in the early stages.

“I felt dreadfully sorry for Mike who’s spent most of his career in the lower leagues, and this was the biggest day of his footballing career,” Jewell told Sky Sports.

United bossed possession but took until the 33rd minute to break through Wigan’s determined defence.

“I thought we played alright in the first half,” Jewell added.

“We were playing against one of the best players in the world – if not the best player in the world – in Wayne Rooney and a team who some people say are in decline.

“But they’ve got top-class players and they’ve been clinical today.

“At 1-0 we had a good chance to make it 1-1, and then it went to 2-0 and we gave some bad goals away.”

Jewell continues to take positives out of Wigan’s season, in which their survival has been practically assured before the end of February.

“I’m immensely proud of them but not just today. We were written off before a ball was kicked this season by some people, but those players have climbed mountains to get 40 points and to get to a major cup final,” added the Wigan boss.

“I can’t speak highly enough of them and give them enough praise.

“United played better than us – they’re a better side than us. Everything had to go for us today – they had to have an off day and we had to play to our maximum, and it didn’t happen.

“But there’s no shame in losing to Manchester United.”

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