After the match report, we reflect on the evening's events at Old Trafford.
The Match They came to pay tribute to a former no. 20 but it was the man currently starring in the shirt who quickly showed what United have been missing for the past 11 matches. Robin van Persie eased any tension with an early goal on his return after already proving his return to fitness with a full-blooded tackle. Ashley Young scored at just the right time to extinguish Cardiff's hopes of a comeback and only the woodwork denied Antonio Valencia a third.
The Goals In the sixth minute, Patrice Evra brilliantly controlled a pass by debutant Juan Mata on the touchline and found van Persie, who touched the ball off to Young. The winger’s cross enabled Antonio Valencia to send a close-range header crashing against the bar and David Marshall somehow kept out van Persie’s follow-up. Thankfully, the Dutchman had a second bite of the cherry and thrashed it home. Young added a second just before the hour mark when lashing a full-blooded strike into the bottom corner of the net from the edge of the area.
Star man Young looked bright from the outset and, of course, netted the important second strike with a moment of magic which he is always capable of producing. The England international also crossed in the build-up to van Persie's opener and was a thorn in the City defence throughout.
Sub-plots Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's return to Old Trafford as an opposing manager for the first time shared top billing with Mata's debut. There was a buzz around the ground as a result but the harsh truth was victory was vital for United in terms of climbing the table with other teams certain to take points off each other. Wayne Rooney came off the bench to provide another major positive for David Moyes while Mata clearly relished the response he received when he was withdrawn late on for Adnan Januzaj.
Opposition Former Manchester City star Craig Bellamy and ex-Red Fraizer Campbell provided much of the threat going forward with the Bluebirds mainly looking to play on the counter-attack. Seemingly not lacking confidence despite a poor run of league form, they kept United busy at the back throughout without overly extending David De Gea.
Move of the Match Following a spell of possession for the Welsh side,