Norwich City at Old Trafford.
Javier Hernandez gave David Moyes a lot to think about with two goals either side of the break, while Phil Jones and Fabio saw off a disappointing Norwich performance.
David Moyes’ side are now unbeaten in six games and, despite his stuttering start as United boss, there appears to be something of the ‘old’ United returning following a period of indifferent performances early in the campaign.
And it took just 20 minutes here for United to take the lead. Referee Kevin Friend made no hesitation to point to the spot when Belgian starlet Adnan Januzaj went down when under pressure from Norwich midfielder Leroy Fer. Hernandez stepped up in the abcense of Wayne Rooney and calmly slotted home.
Chris Hughton’s side rarely threatened United’s resolve, with Nathan Redmond the only player to offer any goal threat in the first half with an effort that trickled wide after a promising run in into the United box.
Johan Elmander went close for the visitors early in the second-half when he headed a Redmond cross just wide, and it was that miss that proved to be hostly as United doubled their lead three minutes later.
Alexander Buttner crossed in from the left and Hernandez headed past Mark Bunn at the second time of asking after his first effort was saved by the Norwich stopper.
The game was then stopped for a lenghty period of time after Robert Snodgrass clashed heads with Rafael and required urgent medical attention that resulted in him leaving the field on a stretcher and spending the night in hospital with concussion.
But when play was restarted United continued their dominance over Hughton’s Canaries and finished strongly to all but ensure they were comfortable winners on the night.
Phil Jones’ volley with his first goal in two years with two minutes of normal time remaining, before Fabio slotted home substitute Rooney’s clever chipped through ball in the second minute of the eleven added on.
Hughton admitted afterwards that his players should have been better on the night, but put some of the blame on the penalty awarded to Moyes’ side in the first half, describing it as “soft” and “deflating.” The Canaries are back in Manchester to face City in the Premier League at the weekend and they will have to be better than this if they are to protect the five point cushion between them and the relegation zone.
Moyes, on the other hand, will have been delighted to see his players, many of which have been used sparingly so far this season, see off a game without any hiccups. The form of Javier Hernandez will be giving him headaches, though, and it will be harsh on the Mexican for him to remain a bench player in the coming games.