By STEVE DOUGLAS, Associated Press
MANCHESTER, England (AP) — Manchester United won its record 20th English league title, beating Aston Villa 3-0 Monday night on Robin van Persie's first-half hat trick to clinch the championship with five games to spare.
Van Persie, signed from Arsenal last summer, put United ahead 83 seconds in when he scored from close range. He doubled the lead with a volley in the 12th minute and completed his hat trick in the 33rd minute for his league-high 24th goal of the season.
Manchester United (27-4-3) has a 16-point lead over Manchester City (20-5-8). City edged United in the final minute of last season with a pair of injury-time goals against Queen Park Rangers.
This is the earliest a club has clinched the Premier League title since Manchester United on April 14, 2001, according to STATS.
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