Rooney double inspires United
Ashley Young was at the centre of yet another penalty row as Wayne Rooney scored twice in a 4-0 win over Aston Villa to send Manchester United five points clear at the top of the Premier League.
Young earned United a sixth-minute spot-kick against his former club but the theatrical dive under minimal contact from Ciaran Clark earned widespread criticism.
Rooney snaffled the opportunity, then added another in the second half, with Danny Welbeck and Nani also finding the net in a one-sided game that keeps Villa nervously looking over their shoulders, six points clear of the relegation zone.
Manchester City had closed the deficit to two points at the top of the league after a resounding win at Norwich on Saturday, but nothing other than a United win looked on the cards after they took an early lead.
Young, accused of diving to earn a penalty in United's last home game with QPR, was back in the spotlight when he theatrically went over Clark's challenge, with replays showing minimal contact, and Rooney slotted home the resulting penalty in the sixth minute.
United were in charge and Rooney went close with a curling effort which brought a save out of Shay Given, before the Republic of Ireland goalkeeper made an even better stop to deny Welbeck's close-range flick.
Villa could not hold out any longer and United's lead was doubled three minutes before the break when a superb cross from Patrice Evra was inexplicably left by Clark and rammed home at the back post by Welbeck.
United struggled to regain their tempo after the break and Villa made a rare foray into the host's penalty area, with David De Gea having to be on guard to tip Emile Heskey's header over.
Rooney had a chance to make it three when he scuffed an effort wide, but he soon made up for it with just over 15 minutes remaining by poking home after a one-two with Antonio Valencia for his 24th league goal of the season.
Villa had Given to thank for stopping United turning it into a goal-fest as first he clawed away Welbeck's close-range effort and then superbly tipped over Valencia's effort. However, he could do nothing to prevent Nani slipping home a fourth in injury time.