Manchester United players eased the pressure on manager David Moyes with a comfortable 4-1 win over Aston Villa at Old Trafford.
During the match a banner reading "Wrong one, Moyes out" flew over the skies above the Theatre of Dreams. However the under-fire manager seized the initiative by entering the field before the teams came out and applauded the continuing support of his home fans. In response, they repaid the favour by producing a standing ovation.
Despite all the mutual back-slapping, it was the visitors who took the lead after 12 minutes. Gabby Agbonlahor was brought down on the left hand edge of the penalty area by Phil Jones and up stepped Ashley Westwood to curl the ball over the wall and past keeper David De Gea from 20 yards.
The home team responded on 19 minutes when Shinji Kagawa cut in from the left and put in a perfect cross onto the head of an unmarked Wayne Rooney who glanced the ball past keeper Brad Guzan to level the game.
The Red Devils scored again on the stroke of half time. A killer through ball by Kagawa from the right found its way to Juan Mata on the left hand side of the penalty area. As the Spaniard cut back, he was brought down by Villa defender Leandro Bacuna and referee Martin Atkinson pointed straight to the spot. Rooney fired the resulting penalty past Guzan for his second of the match to start the turn around.
Villa had two good chances early in the second half which both fell to striker Christian Benteke. The first chance looked certain to be the equaliser on 49 minutes but the Belgian striker missed the ball when going to shoot after being played in by a chipped through ball to the far post by Ashley Westwood. Four minutes later Benteke was there again to meet a Marc Albrighton cross from the right hand side but headed over.
In top-level football, teams must take their chances and Villa's failure to do so was punished with 57 minutes gone. A header over the Villa defence from Alexander Buttner pinged around in the box where Mata reacted quickest to score his first goal for the club from 12 yards out.
Rooney could have had a hat trick but his effort from the left hand side of the box was well saved by Guzan.The comeback was complete on 90 minutes when some good work on the left hand side by substitute Adnan Janujaz produced a cross which was met by his fellow substitute Javier Hernandez who poked the ball home from three yards out.
It was a dominant performance from the Champions who had to respond to their midweek derby loss to Manchester City.After the game Villa manager said; "When you come to places like this, you have to take your chances when you get them."
After the comfortable victory David Moyes said that his team were "well prepared" for their crucial Champions League last 16 match against Bayern Munich.