Match ends, Manchester United 4, Aston Villa 1.
Wayne Rooney scored twice as Manchester United fought back to beat Aston Villa after a fly-by protest by fans calling for manager David Moyes to be sacked.
A plane carrying an anti-Moyes banner was booed by some home fans as it flew over Old Trafford in the second minute.
Ashley Westwood's curling free-kick put Villa ahead but Rooney quickly headed United level, then scored from the spot after Leandro Bacuna fouled Juan Mata.
Mata slotted home a third before Javier Hernandez made it 4-1 in injury time.
Villa striker Christian Benteke missed two good second-half chances but, crucially for their under-pressure manager, United were convincing winners and Moyes enjoyed a very public show of support.
The aerial message organised by disgruntled United fans read "Wrong One - Moyes Out", but it was not well received by supporters inside the ground when it appeared overhead.
Just as significant was the reaction to Moyes emerging from the tunnel ahead of kick-off - before his players, unusually - with applause from all four sides of Old Trafford greeting his arrival.
That backing could easily have wavered when Westwood expertly bent a free-kick over the United wall and beyond a diving David De Gea in the 13th minute.
But the United fans continued to sing Moyes's name and saw their side level seven minutes later when Rooney expertly steered Shinji Kagawa's cross into the corner of the net.
The home side improved as the game went on, and took the lead just before half-time when Kagawa's pass, intended for Rooney, ran through to Mata inside the box. He turned inside Bacuna but was sent tumbling as the Villa defender dived in, and Rooney made no mistake from the spot.
Villa had their chances, with Benteke mis-kicking in front of goal from Westwood's cross and then heading over from a Marc Albrighton delivery.
Those misses were punished just before the hour when Marouane Fellaini helped the ball into Mata's path inside the box and the Spanish playmaker fired home his first goal since joining United for £37m in January.
By now the hosts were finding plenty of space in and around the Villa area, but there were still some gaps in their defence too.
Benteke should have done better when he beat the offside trap to meet Ciaran Clark's ball into the box, but he failed to make a proper connection.
Bayern Munich, who visit Old Trafford in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final on Tuesday, are unlikely to be so wasteful, but this time United's defensive lapses never threatened to spoil their victory.
Hernandez converted Adnan Januzaj's inviting cross to make it 4-1 in stoppage time and, at the final whistle, Moyes left the arena in the same way he had arrived - to loud applause.
Manchester United manager David Moyes: "Wayne Rooney has played great all season.
"I said to him in the dressing room after the game that he is doing a great job for the team. He is getting the goals that we need and his all-round form and play have been very good too."
Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert: "I thought 4-1 was harsh on us. We started the game great and scored a really good goal and we were looking pretty good.
"But then we conceded a pretty poor first goal and it was a clear penalty to United, no arguments about that.
"Just after the restart we had two incredible chances to peg it back and you have got to take chances like that.
"That is no criticism of Christian Benteke because he has scored vital goals for us and he will continue to do so but, on another day, we score a couple of goals and it becomes a different game."
- 1de Gea
- 2da SilvaBooked at 12minsSubstituted forCarrickat 45'minutes
- 28BüttnerBooked at 16mins
- 10RooneySubstituted forHernándezat 75'minutes
- 26KagawaSubstituted forJanuzajat 68'minutes
- 17Almeida da Cunha
- 7BacunaBooked at 44mins
- 23BertrandBooked at 64mins
- 6ClarkBooked at 88mins
- 12AlbrightonSubstituted forLowtonat 78'minutesBooked at 90mins
- 11AgbonlahorSubstituted forTonevat 71'minutes
- Martin Atkinson
- Shots on Target
Second Half ends, Manchester United 4, Aston Villa 1.
Matthew Lowton (Aston Villa) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Adnan Januzaj (Manchester United) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Foul by Matthew Lowton (Aston Villa).
Goal! Manchester United 4, Aston Villa 1. Javier Hernández (Manchester United) right footed shot from very close range to the high centre of the goal. Assisted by Adnan Januzaj with a cross.
Attempt missed. Ciaran Clark (Aston Villa) left footed shot from outside the box misses to the left. Assisted by Aleksandar Tonev.
Ciaran Clark (Aston Villa) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Marouane Fellaini (Manchester United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Ciaran Clark (Aston Villa).
Attempt missed. Aleksandar Tonev (Aston Villa) right footed shot from the left side of the box misses to the right. Assisted by Christian Benteke.
Hand ball by Adnan Januzaj (Manchester United).
Offside, Manchester United. David de Gea tries a through ball, but Adnan Januzaj is caught offside.
Substitution, Aston Villa. Matthew Lowton replaces Marc Albrighton.
Adnan Januzaj (Manchester United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Ashley Westwood (Aston Villa).
Attempt missed. Christian Benteke (Aston Villa) right footed shot from the centre of the box misses to the right. Assisted by Ciaran Clark.
Corner, Aston Villa. Conceded by Nemanja Vidic.
Corner, Aston Villa. Conceded by Phil Jones.
Substitution, Manchester United. Javier Hernández replaces Wayne Rooney.