MANCHESTER (REUTERS) - Wayne Rooney scored two first half goals to help send Manchester United to a 4-1 win over a spirited Aston Villa on Saturday, temporarily lifting the gloom surrounding David Moyes' dismal first term in charge.
Last season's champions have looked a pale imitation of the United sides that bossed the Premier League under former manager Alex Ferguson, and have slumped to seventh on the back of poor home form that includes consecutive 3-0 defeats to bitter rivals Liverpool and Manchester City.
The Old Trafford crowd, many of whom booed an anti-Moyes banner that was flown over the ground as the match started, had further cause to grumble when Ashley Westwood put Villa ahead with a 13th minute free-kick.
Rooney headed United level six minutes later before putting them ahead from the penalty spot just before half time as he moved into fourth spot in the all-time English Premier League scoring charts.
Christian Benteke missed two glorious chances to draw Villa level before Spaniard Juan Mata scored his first goal since his big money move from Chelsea in January.
Substitute Javier Hernandez rounded off the win in injury time as United moved to 54 points, nine off fourth-placed Arsenal in the final Champions League spot.