Chris Smalling: Handled the speedy Gabriel Agbonlahor magnificently, making an early challenge to set out a marker and even outpacing the Villa star at one point. Always physical and stuck to his man throughout. A real talent who seems to love defending.
Nemanja Vidic: His powerful header away in the dying seconds, which also happened to pick out a team-mate, sums up the captain's contribution. A huge influence at the back and incredibly consistent, he was badly missed in the defeat to City but took care of Darren Bent all evening.
Rio Ferdinand: Unflappable and largely untested in his 64 minutes on the pitch. A neat ball wide to Ashley Young was one of many accurate passes and he snuffed out Villa's threat with ease, moving across to the flanks when necessary to use his experience.
Patrice Evra: Handled Marc Albrighton well and performed his defensive duties with minimum fuss. One needless concession of a corner aside, he was largely flawless and one intelligent header down the line to Young was an example of the support he provides to those going forward. Indeed, it was his pass to Nani that led to Phil Jones' goal.
Nani: Switched to a more central role after the injury to Javier Hernandez and buzzed around causing problems for the static central defenders. Instantly looking dangerous, it was his excellent cross that allowed Jones to net