Wayne Rooney piloted Manchester United to victory as Villa stalled after taking an early lead. The England striker’s first-half double gave United lift-off as they ignored the message which flew above the ground at kick off.
Wayne Rooney piloted Manchester United to victory as Villa stalled after taking an early lead.
The England striker’s first-half double gave United lift-off as they ignored the message which flew above the ground at kick off.
Some United fans had chartered a plane to fly a banner which read ‘Wrong One – Moyes Out’ in protest to the Red Devils’ awful season in his first year in charge.
But after Juan Mata added a third – his first goal for United – it was plane sailing for the hosts, who scored a late fourth through Javier Hernandez.
Ashley Westwood had curled in an early opener and it could have been different had Christian Benteke not produced miss of the season to spurn a chance to make it 2-2 immediate after the break.
It was hardly a flying performance from Moyes’ side though as they remained seventh with Villa 12th before the Premier League’s later kick-offs.
Ciaran Clark and Marc Albrighton replaced Nathan Baker and the injured Karim El Ahmadi after Villa’s 4-1 defeat to Stoke.
United – following their 3-0 capitulation to Manchester City – made five changes with ex-Villa ace Ashley Young, Alex Buttner, Nemanja Vidic, Darren Fletcher and Shinji Kagawa brought in.
Moyes strode out to the dugout early in an apparent act of defiance before the well-hyped plane arrived to jeers from the United fans.
And if United went out to ease any tension around Old Trafford they were found wanting.
Villa bossed possession and took the lead on 13 minutes when Rafael brought Gabby Agbonlahor down on the edge of the area.
Westwood stepped up to curl the free kick in – although David De Gea should have done better after getting a hand to his effort.
It silenced Old Trafford as Villa began to look comfortable but, as against Stoke, they let their opponents back into the game.
Criminal marking left Rooney alone to head in Kagawa’s cross on 28 minutes and even with United’s problems the England striker could not miss.
Clark blocked the forward’s drive soon after as the hosts threatened again with the game delicately poised before half time.
And a minute before the break United edged ahead when Kagawa was again allowed to drift inside to find Mata – who was cleaned out by Leandro Bacuna.
Rooney confidentially converted the penalty to paper over the cracks in United’s first-half performances.
The hosts had lacked energy and excitement yet where ahead – although Benteke should have levelled four minutes after the re-start.
The striker missed a sitter just six yards out when, unmarked, he missed his kick after Westwood found him at the back post.
Half-time substitute Michael Carrick raced back to clear but it could not hide Benteke’s blushes.
Villa’s top scorer then headed over Marc Albrighton’s cross as Villa looked to level, only to find themselves 3-1 down after 57 minutes.
They failed to clear Buttner’s header and when Marouane Fellaini’s shot fell to Mata he netted his first United goal from 10 yards.
The goal deflated Villa and Brad Guzan comfortably claimed Adnan Januzaj’s effort before he denied Rooney a hat-trick with a smart save on 71 minutes.
Aleksandar Tonev then twice fired wide and Benteke just failed to meet a Ryan Bertrand centre.
Hernandez added a fourth in injury time, converting Januzaj’s cross from close range, to add the gloss to United’s day.