|1||Van der Sar|
On the half-hour James Milner whipped in a dangerous cross from the right which Ferdinand hacked away at second attempt with Agbonlahor ready to pounce.
Seven minutes before the break Ji-sung Park had an excellent chance to break the deadlock after running onto Rooney’s pass in the box, but the Korean took too much time on the ball and was dispossessed by Ashley Young.
The same duo were involved in another opportunity a minute later but Park was inches away from converting Rooney’s low right-wing cross.
Nemanja Vidic then headed a Giggs free-kick narrowly wide as United finished the half in the ascendency.
Villa came out with more intent to cause United problems and van der Sar was called into action again to tip over Ashley Young’s left-foot curler. Laursen headed over a resultant corner when well placed in the centre of the box.
There was a flashpoint just before the hour when the pacy Agbonhalor got in behind Vidic and was brought down just inside the box, but referee Chris Foy ruled Vidic had won the ball cleanly.
Villa were gaining a foothold but you sensed that a goal for United would deflate them. Rooney had a glorious chance to make that breakthrough but blasted high and wide from seven yards after running onto Michael Carrick’s clever pass over his head.
With 20 minutes to go Sir Alex Ferguson brought on Nani in place of Tevez, who had worked his socks off without creating any clear-cut openings for himself.