Wayne Rooney and Juan Mata scored doubles as Manchester United’s interim manager Ryan Giggs saw his team beat Norwich City 4-0 for a dream start.
Giggs is in interim charge of the Barclays Premier League champions after David Moyes' departure on Tuesday. Taking to the touchline in a club suit, United's longest-serving player looked the part in the role. Sir Alex Ferguson has backed Giggs to take on the job full-time, and the hosts displayed an early intensity of the kind associated with the Scot's reign.
Much of United's first-half work lacked penetration, but Rooney scored a penalty four minutes before half-time and doubled his tally three minutes after the break. Substitute Mata struck twice to complete the scoring, leaving Old Trafford delighted and Norwich placed just a point and a place above the relegation zone with two matches remaining.
Giggs made six changes to the side beaten by Everton last weekend with Mata on the bench and Marouane Fellaini not making the matchday 18. The Welshman was afforded a rapturous reception.
Jonny Howson had the ball in the net for Norwich after David De Gea had fumbled Ricky van Wolfswinkel's ninth-minute header, but the Dutch striker was penalised for a push on Phil Jones.
City's first testing moment came via the United left in the 14th minute when Martin Olsson failed to clear Patrice Evra's searching cross before Danny Welbeck reacted quickest to the loose ball, forcing John Ruddy to save smartly at his near post.
United struggled for fluency but, after Ruddy had beaten a ball from Valencia out of the goalmouth, the Old Trafford crowd was on its feet in the 41st minute as Rooney converted from the spot.
Jones' pass found its way through a crowd of Norwich defenders to Welbeck, who was fouled by Steven Whittaker, and Rooney sent Ruddy the wrong way from the resulting penalty to record a 16th league goal of the season.
Norwich were left with a mountain to climb after the restart when Rooney was allowed to advance unchallenged towards the edge of the area. Despite losing his footing, the England forward's shot curled beyond Ruddy and into the bottom far corner.
Robert Snodgrass was Norwich's standout attacking threat and he tested De Gea with a 58th-minute free-kick, having drawn a foul from Nemanja Vidic, but the game was over as a contest five minutes later. Having saved impressively from Welbeck, Ruddy pushed the ball clear as Rooney sought a hat-trick, but Jones drilled the ball back into the box and Mata converted on the volley.
The Spain midfielder nodded in his second goal after Valencia had smashed a 73rd-minute volley across the area. Substitute Johan Elmander and Bradley Johnson went close and Olsson saw a deflected drive strike the crossbar in a belated Norwich rally, but manager Neil Adams now must face matches against Chelsea and Arsenal in which to secure their top-flight status.
Manchester United interim manager Ryan Giggs: "I picked a team that I thought could win the game. To be honest with you, first half, the tempo probably wasn't as quick as I'd like it to be.
"Maybe that was down to it being a big week, an emotional week, and the lads have trained hard. It took a bit of time for us to get going but the goal came for us at the perfect time and, going in at 1-0, I just said, 'Quicken up the tempo and we'll be okay.’ "
"The reception was great. I've walked out of that tunnel so many times in big games and that's the best feeling I've had. I felt 10-foot tall, so proud, and the fan's reaction was great - just like it has been all week.
"Did I sleep last night? No, in a word. Leaving out players was the reason I didn't sleep. It wasn't nice. They're team-mates of mine. I've never had to do it before and I'll continue not enjoying it. That has been the hardest part of this week."
"Honestly, I’m just looking forward to Sunderland now and that's it. That’s what my focus and concentration is on. I'm not looking any further ahead than that."
Norwich City manager Neil Adams: "We did really well in the first half and frustrated them but then five minutes before the break they get a penalty. In the second half we were not good enough. We allowed Wayne Rooney too much time and space to get in a shot and we did the same last week against Liverpool when Raheem Sterling scored.
"We had a go after that but it is difficult when you are 2-0 down away from home. We should have done better. We have got two games left and probably have to take points from them [to stay up]."
"Overall, it wasn't good enough but we are still above the [relegation] line. What we can't do is beat ourselves up. We have to believe in ourselves and give everything we have got for the last two games."