Manchester United ended a week of frustration on the pitch in fine fashion by beating Aston Villa 4-1 on Saturday. After a midweek defeat by Manchester City the mood at Old Trafford became more concerned further as Ashley Westwood's second goal of the season gave Paul Lambert's side a shock lead.
However, Wayne Rooney dragged the hosts in front with a double before half-time, taking his tally to six goals from his last six league matches.
Any home jitters were put to rest 12 minutes into the second half as Juan Mata scored his first United goal, before substitute Javier Hernandez rounded matters off late on with a typical poacher's finish after good work from Adnan Januzaj. The win keeps United within reach of the top six and also serves as a perfect tonic ahead of Tuesday's UEFA Champions League quarter-final first leg against holders Bayern Munich.
United manager David Moyes was warmly applauded on to the pitch by the Old Trafford faithful, but the home fans' mood was darkened when, on 12 minutes, Westwood curled a superb free-kick home and past David de Gea's despairing dive. Villa kept the pressure on as Ciaran Clark sent a free header over the crossbar.
But United equalised on the counter-attack, a totally unmarked Rooney nodding Shinji Kagawa's cross past Brad Guzan. That goal kicked United into gear, and they went ahead just before the interval as Leandro Bacuna's lunge on Mata resulted in a penalty that Rooney lashed past Brad Guzan.
Christian Benteke wasted two big chances to equalise for Villa in the opening minutes of the second half and those misses came back to haunt the Belgian as Mata gave United breathing space. Marouane Fellaini's presence in the penalty area played havoc for the Villa defence, and Mata stole in to open his United account with a low right-footed effort.
Rooney went close to a hat-trick, working space with a sensational first touch from a long ball, only for Guzan to deny him. The striker was withdrawn soon after as Moyes turned focus to Tuesday's match with Bayern. Hernandez got on the end of Januzaj's excellent cross in stoppage time to seal the impressive win and give Moyes renewed vigour ahead of arguably his toughest test since taking over from Sir Alex Ferguson.
Manchester United David Moyes: "We didn’t get off to a great start. Everyone was a bit nervy in that first five to 10-minute period. Once we regrouped and got going, it was good that we got the equaliser and we scored the second goal at a really good time just before half-time. The players took the challenge on and rose to it after that and we got better.
"I love my football and the fourth one was a great goal with the interplay on the wing between Adnan Januzaj and Marouane Fellaini and Adnan put in a great cross for Chicharito. It was a goal for a football supporter."
“Ever since I’ve been at Manchester United, I’ve only had support. I don’t where people are trying to change this from but I believe that all Manchester United supporters are behind me and they all understand the situation we are in. The players are incredibly focused, that was an important thing as I wanted the focus to be right.”
Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert: “The scoreline was pretty harsh on us. We started the game great, looked really good, had plenty of the ball and looked very threatening, then Westy scores a terrific free-kick.
"We lost a poor goal with the header but Wayne Rooney can do that. The second goal was a penalty - a clear penalty. Then we came out in the second half and Christian has a really good chance.
"I won't be critical of him, though, because he's scored vital goals for us. But overall, we were definitely a handful. I always felt we could get something out of the game. But when you come to places like this, you have to take your chances when you get them.
"You're obviously disappointed about being beaten 4-1 but there's a lot to take out of the game."
|03 May 2014||v Sunderland (H)|
|20 Apr 2014||v Everton (A)|
|11 May 2014||v Southampton (A)|
|26 Apr 2014||v Norwich (H)|
|05 Apr 2014||v Newcastle (A)|
|06 May 2014||v Hull (H)|