For match photos, scroll to PHOTOSTREAM above left; for match stats, click on the stats tab. Manager reaction below and press conferences above.
The returning Robin van Persie overshadowed Juan Mata on his debut as Manchester United claimed a 2-0 victory over Cardiff City.
New record signing Mata was given his first outing in a United shirt since completing his move from Barclays Premier League rivals Chelsea but it was Van Persie, making his first appearance since 10 December due to a groin injury, who stole the show by notching the opener.
Mata played his part in a lively United performance and he was afforded a standing ovation by the Old Trafford crowd as he was withdrawn in the closing stages, with Ashley Young's superb strike rounding off a pleasing night for manager David Moyes.
Cardiff manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who enjoyed an 11-year spell as a player at United, could not spoil the party against his former club, the Norweigan enduring an unhappy homecoming as he continues to search for his first Barclays Premier League victory in charge.
Manchester United controlled the tempo in the first half and deservedly moved ahead when Van Persie scored his fifth goal in his last six Barclays Premier League games with a close-range header. United continued to impress and Young added a second with a fierce strike just short of the hour mark, as the Reds surpassed 1,000 points at Old Trafford in the Barclays Premier League.
United utilised Mata behind Van Persie, while Wayne Rooney was on the substitutes' bench after a five-match lay-off with a foot injury.
As well as welcoming back Solskjaer, there was another familiar face for United fans in the Cardiff line-up, as they named former Old Trafford striker Fraizer Campbell in their starting XI.
The home side were rewarded for a bright start with the opener after six minutes. Antonio Valencia headed Young's teasing delivery against the crossbar and, although David Marshall saved Van Persie's initial follow-up, the Dutchman nodded home the rebound.
Mata was at the heart of all United's attacking play but, despite their solid start, it took until the 34th minute for the champions of the Barclays Premier League to fashion another chance of note when Patrice Evra's clever backheel found the lively Van Persie, who flashed an effort across goal from an acute angle.
Cardiff could have punished the hosts when Craig Noone crossed from the right, only for his delivery to narrowly evade Campbell. The visitors enjoyed a spell of pressure after the break and Declan John's cutback only just escaped the attentions of Campbell again.
United were rarely in danger, however, and Young made it 2-0 on 59 minutes when he received the ball on the left before cutting inside and skipping past two challenges to rifle into the far corner from 25 yards.
Shortly afterwards, Rooney replaced Van Persie and he was soon among the action with a deflected effort sailing narrowly wide. Valencia then saw Marshall tip his effort onto the post as United piled on the pressure.
Mata saw an effort deflected over before he was withdrawn with time running out, receiving the adulation of his new fans. Rooney then curled wide from 20 yards in injury time but United had done enough.
Manchester United manager David Moyes: "We kept a clean sheet, scored a couple of goals, got a couple of players back from injury and gave Juan Mata his debut. He gave us a bit more craft. He did well. We know how much of a good player he is. Getting Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney back made a big difference.
"We had chances to score more than two. The win was very important for the team. It was very exciting for me. The fans are unbelievable. The lads welcomed me very well. I think it was a good game, I'm looking forward to improve. We will try until the end [to finish in the Champions League places]. We will never give up."
Cardiff City manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer: "It's hard when you concede a goal within six minutes. We contained them and played better but didn't have the urgency or threat to create big chances. We did cause them some problems but didn't have enough.
"These lads never capitulate. The workrate is fantastic. Next month is going to be a great month for us hopefully. We probably need another 18 points - we have to target the home games to get points. There is a great set of players here. We never bottled it.
"You feel honoured and humbled that the supporters still appreciate you but I'm working for Cardiff - that's my job now."
|01 Feb 2014||v Stoke (A)|
|09 Feb 2014||v Fulham (H)|
|12 Feb 2014||v Arsenal (A)|
|22 Feb 2014||v Crystal Palace (A)|
|16 Mar 2014||v Liverpool (H)|
|22 Mar 2014||v West Ham (A)|