Danny Welbeck scored twice as Manchester United beat Aston Villa 3-0 in the Premier League to ease the pressure on manager David Moyes.
Back-to-back defeats against Everton and Newcastle United had left Moyes' men ninth in the table, but they got back on track at Villa Park by securing their first win in five top-flight games.
Welbeck had not scored for over two months and was without a league goal since August, yet the England striker struck twice in the space of three first-half minutes on Sunday.
Tom Cleverley then scored his first Premier League goal for exactly a year early in the second half to end any hopes of a Villa comeback and Darren Fletcher made his first appearance since Boxing Day after recovering from a bowel problem on a morale-boosting afternoon for United.
Last year's champions have now won their last six games against Villa and the latest victory ensures they leapfrog Southampton to move into eighth, 10 points behind leaders Arsenal. Villa have already suffered six home defeats this season.
Fletcher was among the United substitutes and Moyes made four changes to the side that beat Shakhtar Donetsk in midweek as Antonio Valencia, Patrice Evra, Cleverley and Welbeck started. Marc Albrighton made his first Villa start of the season as Paul Lambert also made four alterations.
United were in front after only 15 minutes when Rafael da Silva got to the byline and whipped in an inviting cross. Adnan Januzaj headed against the post, but Welbeck slotted in the rebound.
Villa were stunned three minutes later when United doubled their lead. This time Antonio Valencia was the architect as he burst down the right before delivering the ball into the path of the onrushing Welbeck, who slid in to finish clinically from close range.
Valencia played a one-two with Welbeck but was indecisive and failed to get his shot away after 27 minutes.
Soon after, the winger set up Rooney and the England striker flashed a shot wide of the far post.
Welbeck had a great chance to complete his hat-trick after only 33 minutes when he raced clear but dragged his shot wide of the far post.
United were out of sight seven minutes after the break as Rooney played in Cleverley and the midfielder tucked the ball inside the near post with a measured right-foot finish.
Cleverley then showed his value at the other end as he produced a timely block to thwart Andreas Weimann.
Fletcher was given a long-awaited run-out with just over 20 minutes remaining and Welbeck had another chance after 72 minutes, but his lob floated over the crossbar.
David De Gea palmed away Karim El Ahmadi's curling free-kick 14 minutes from time and Cleverley stung Brad Guzan's palms as United saw out a comfortable victory.
|8||K. El Ahmadi|
|Coach: P. Lambert|
for Y. Sylla 62'
for C. Benteke 79'
for K. El Ahmadi 86'
|Mourinho unsure if Rooney will recover for EFL Cup final|
|Rami rejects talk of Marseille switch|
|Tarnat tips Manchester City´s Sane to become Germany star|
|I don´t see why he should quit - Begovic tips Terry to continue|
|PSG ´weakened´ without Ibrahimovic, claims Monaco´s Bakayoko|
|Low believes in ´locksmith´ Gotze|
|No pain, no gain for Cristiano Ronaldo|
|Barcelona have no idea how to treat players - Dani Alves slams Camp Nou board|
|Low: Germany´s youngsters must be good enough to beat Messi and Ronaldo|
|Mandorlini replaces Juric at Genoa|
|Liverpool could face ´new´ Leicester – Klopp|
|Corchia excited by Bielsa arrival but Lille future remains uncertain|
|Wenger: I threw up after first loss as coach|
|Conte wants fairytale finish for Terry|
|Iniesta: Barcelona haven´t lost faith in Luis Enrique|
|Mourinho knew Ibrahimovic would be ´massive´ for United|
|Ter Stegen doesn´t understand Barcelona fans whistling|
|´He is doing a fantastic job´ – Bartomeu backs Luis Enrique|
|Guardiola slams ´unacceptable´ Wenger treatment|
|Spalletti: Roma goal machine Dzeko now believes he´s world class|
|Emery refuses to blame referee after PSG are held|
|Montella dedicates AC Milan win to Berlusconi|
|The players don´t need whistles – Luis Enrique hits out at fans|
|Brazilian game called off due to TV dispute|
|Chelsea are already Premier League champions, says United boss Mourinho|
|Barcelona 2 Leganes 1: Late Messi penalty spares Ter Stegen´s blushes|
|Paris Saint-Germain 0 Toulouse 0: Champions spill valuable points|
|AC Milan 2 Fiorentina 1: Deulofeu strike keeps European hopes alive|
|Attitude got Man United through - Mourinho|
|Roma 4 Torino 1: Dzeko strikes again|
|Lincoln face Sutton or Arsenal in FA Cup quarter-finals, Chelsea host Man United|
|Neuer slams Jarstein after brawl|
|Blackburn Rovers 1 Manchester United 2: Substitutes Pogba and Ibrahimovic combine for late winner|
|Inter insist Perisic going nowhere, rule out move for Verratti|
|Borussia Monchengladbach 1 RB Leipzig 2: Forsberg and Werner reignite title bid|
|Training-ground meetings paid dividends - Pochettino|
|I´m trying to find a team - Berbatov open to offers|
|Inspired by Zeman´s return, Pescara hammer Genoa 5-0|
|Gabigol wants to make history after Inter breakthrough|
|Chievo 1 Napoli 3: Sarri´s men bounce back from Champions League disappoitment|
|Alfonso Perez calls for Pique to quit international football over political beliefs|
|Benatia refuses to question Allegri´s decisions|
|Fulham 0 Tottenham 3: Kane hat-trick fires Spurs into quarter-finals|
|Oblak return boosts Atletico ahead of Leverkusen trip|
|Gabigol and Inter ready to feast on success after late winner|
|Bologna 0 Inter 1: Gabigol gets belated lift-off in Serie A|
|Still no Mascherano or Arda for Barcelona|
|Bielsa appointed Lille boss from next season|
|Janssen determined to make the grade at Tottenham|
|Stones missing Kompany influence at Manchester City - Ferdinand|
|Central Coast Mariners 0 Melbourne Victory 3: Muscat´s men cruise to win|
|David Villa sent off after video replay|
|Favre not blaming Balotelli for latest red card|
|´It is my future at stake´ – Isco could leave Real Madrid|
|Smalling desperate for Ibrahimovic stay|
|´He will be here for sure´ - Mourinho rules out Shaw exit|
|Wenger not ready for retirement, wants Arsenal stay|
|Pogba will soon look cheap, claims Manchester United boss Mourinho|
|Casilla defends under-fire Navas|
|Isco ´happy and committed´ at Real Madrid – Zidane|
|Middle finger gesture was because I was spat at - Ancelotti|
|Leicester must learn from Millwall´s ´gladiators´ – Ranieri|
|Sevilla 2 Eibar 0: Sampaoli´s side move up to second|
|Lorient 0 Nice 1: Balotelli sent off as visitors go second|
|Too early to talk about Chelsea double – Conte|
|Conte delighted with Chelsea´s fringe players|
|Foreign players don´t expect cup upsets – Terry|
|Bale eyes top form and titles after scoring on Real Madrid comeback|
|Watzke received death threats after Leipzig match|
|Wolves 0 Chelsea 2: Pedro and Costa send Conte´s men through|
|Zidane reveals what he whispered to Bale before comeback goal|
|Dardai hits out at ´Bayern bonus´ after late equaliser|
|Ancelotti adamant Bayern deserved controversial equaliser|
|Ronaldo was not getting anxious, insists Zidane|
|Kompany injury not serious, says Manchester City boss Guardiola|
|Kompany injury not serious, says Manchester City boss Guardiola|
|Ranieri: 10-man Millwall were better than us|
|Piszczek represents everything Borussia Dortmund stand for - Tuchel|
|Championship Review: Brighton back top, Wednesday capitalise on Norwich slip|
|´Vamosss!!!´ - Bale ecstatic after scoring on Real Madrid return|
|Favourites tag weighed heavily on Burnley in Lincoln loss, says Dyche|
|Simeone delighted with Gameiro´s ruthless cameo|
|Millwall 1 Leicester City 0: Cummings wins it for 10-man Lions|
|Middlesbrough 3 Oxford United 2: Stuani rescues Boro after minute of mayhem|
|Real Madrid 2 Espanyol 0: Bale scores on comeback as hosts extend lead|
|Huddersfield Town 0 Manchester City 0: No pep from Guardiola´s men in cup stalemate|
|Hertha Berlin 1 Bayern Munich 1: Lewandowski rescues champions with last kick|
|Barton denies trying to force Rhead red and accuses Lincoln of play-acting|
|Borussia Dortmund 3 Wolfsburg 0: Piszczek stars with Yellow Wall absent|
|Cowley brothers marvel at Lincoln´s FA Cup heroics|
|Violence in the stands mars Tigres victory|
|Raggett ´lost for words´ after sending Lincoln into FA Cup quarter-finals|
|Gameiro dedicates hat-trick to grandmother|
|Burnley 0 Lincoln City 1: Raggett puts non-league heroes in FA Cup dreamland|
|Gameiro hits fastest LaLiga hat-trick in 22 years|
|Big-money signing Krychowiak to play with PSG reserves|
|Sporting Gijon 1 Atletico Madrid 4: Stunning Gameiro hat-trick snatches victory|
|A-League Review: Derby defeat for Sydney, Melbourne City cruise to victory|
|Barcelona results ´irrelevant´ to Luis Enrique´s future|
|Montella backs Donnarumma for Ballon d´Or|
|Bournemouth congratulate Arter on birth of daughter|
|Loftus-Cheek confident his Chelsea chance will come|
|Rashford still part of Mourinho´s plans - Brown|
|Klopp confirms Liverpool transfer plans are already underway|
|No chance of Jesus joining Inter, says agent|
|Dani Alves: If anyone can come back, it´s the Barcelona machines|
|Purslow stepping down from Chelsea role|
|Redknapp: Tottenham will win Premier League within four years|
|Buffon one of the greatest of all time - Casillas|
|Winning over happiness for Chelsea´s Conte|
|Manchester City can still win Premier League - Gundogan|
|Ferdinand backs Keane to re-sign with United like Pogba|
|Pochettino: Janssen must do more at Tottenham|
|Marotta: Juve signing Verratti unrealistic|
|Guardiola: I will never return to Barcelona|
|Allegri jokes ´how is my English?´ as Arsenal rumours intensify|
|We did not play well – Juventus hero Dybala fires Porto warning|