famous volley against Villa with a textbook strike that Given fielded, the evergreen midfielder then tried to re-enact his classic at Bradford by smashing Young's pinpoint corner wide. If either shot had ended up in the net, they would have brought the house down.
Stephen Ireland reminded United of Villa's threat on the break by bending a drive wide after Rafael was beaten by Weimann on the flank but the best work from the Midlanders was always in defence as Antonio Valencia's driven cross was deflected goalwards by Welbeck but Given pulled off a marvellous reflex stop to tip it over the bar.
Welbeck perserved and added a second goal before the break to put the champions firmly in the driving seat. Neat play by Carrick and Rooney in midfield released Patrice Evra on the left but the skipper's centre seemed unlikely to pick out a colleague. However, Nathan Baker appeared to step over the ball, unaware Welbeck was lurking, and the striker snaked out a long leg to divert it home.
Sir Alex's side were comparatively sluggish at the start of the second half with a couple of attacks breaking down due to Rooney being a little careless with his passing as Bannan lashed the only real attempt over the spell well over De Gea's bar from long range. Valencia did have a shot charged down by Collins but Clark's head injury added to the stop-start nature of the second period.
Villa survived another loud penalty shout when Baker appeared to handle inside the box but refused to go down without a fight as substitute Emile Heskey, on for the concussed Clark, forced De Gea to tip over a looping header. Back came the Reds and two fine passes by Jonny Evans and Antonio Valencia led to a real chance for Rooney in the middle but he dragged his effort