Four second-half goals helped a fluent United see off West Bromwich Albion’s gallant challenge at Old Trafford.
The Reds had been frustrated by the visitors – in particular keeper Scott Carson – for nearly an hour but finally made the breakthrough when Wayne Rooney finished neatly for his fourth goal in as many games.
Cristiano Ronaldo made the game safe with a left-footed shot before Dimitar Berbatov prodded home and substitute Nani added gloss to the scoreline in injury-time.
Rooney was again irrepressible and the only downside to the win was an injury to Patrice Evra, who was forced off in the first half after taking a knock to his leg.
Despite the impending Champions League visit of Celtic, Sir Alex Ferguson opted to field a strong side. It was perhaps a sign of respect for the Baggies, who arrived on the back of three straight league wins.
Right-back Rafael was handed a first Premier League start, with Ryan Giggs playing in the centre of midfield, Ji-sung Park on the left and Ronaldo on the right. Carlos Tevez and Anderson were omitted from the squad after their international exertions in midweek.
West Brom began with a confidence that belied their underdog status, Chris Brunt firing straight at Edwin van der Sar when well placed on the edge of the box.
But United – in particular the first three goalscorers – looked in the mood as well and the forward trio were involved in most of the Reds’ most promising attacks.
Rooney looked to have given United the lead midway through the first half when he controlled Ronaldo’s pass, cut inside and dinked the ball home, only for referee Mark Halsey to harshly penalise the striker for a push on