Wayne Rooney and Nani scored a brace apiece as Man Utd put a difficult week behind them with a 4-1 win over Wolves.
Rooney ends goal drought with Nani also on target
Wayne Rooney and Nani scored a brace apiece as Manchester United put a difficult week behind them with a 4-1 Premier League win over Wolves.
United crashed out of the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday but refused to dwell on the setback and took just 17 minutes to break down the visitors, with Nani drilling home.
Rooney doubled their advantage ten minutes later, firing home his 10th Premier League goal of the season and ending an eight-game drought in the process.
Steven Fletcher gave Wolves hope with an early second-half header, but Nani, assisted by Antonio Valencia, scored his second of the game soon after to restore United's two-goal advantage.
The third goal deflated Mick McCarthy's side and Rooney took advantage, showing superb technique in putting the game beyond doubt with United's fourth on 62 minutes, with Valencia once again the provider.
The win moves the title holders within two points of league leaders Manchester City, who travel to Chelsea on Monday night.
The victory may not atone for the disappointment in Switzerland in midweek with United losing 2-1 to Basel to go out of Europe's premier club competition.
However, with so many injuries to overcome as well, the sight of Rooney making a meaningful contribution to a handsome win at least allows Sir Alex Ferguson to move forward with confidence.
There was a sense of focus to United's performance once Fletcher had fired a good chance wide after just 20 seconds.
A Wolves goal at that point would have really caused the home fans to sweat.
As it was, with Nani leading the way, they swiftly took command.
The Portugal winger was one of the few to excel in Basel and maintained that form on Saturday.
He had already served notice of his intention to cause Wolves problems when he was allowed to drift his way across the penalty area, skipping past three defenders in the process.
Nani then cut a shot back beyond Wayne Hennessey's right hand that found the bottom corner. The celebration was a mixture of relief and defiance.
What happened on Wednesday is going to take more than one goal, one performance and one win to put right but the process of putting together those shattered pieces had begun.
Rooney collected Nani's pass and found the same corner his team-mate's shot had nestled in earlier, it broke a sequence of seven league games when United had scored just a single goal.
Yet, in keeping with the hosts' recent difficulties, they handed Wolves a lifeline within 90 seconds of the restart when Fletcher peeled off Patrice Evra, then rose above the diminutive Frenchman to nod home Matt Jarvis' excellent far-post cross.
For a few minutes, United were on the back foot as Jarvis tormented Chris Smalling, who was unable to match his impressive first-half performance.
But when Phil Jones set Valencia away, the South American's low cross was tucked home by Nani from close range.
Now the conviction for which United are so synonymous returned. Hennessey bundled Jonny Evans' header round the post and twice denied Danny Welbeck.
In between, Valencia, one of those to struggle for form this season, picked out Rooney with another right-wing cross.
Though not in the greatest position, the bounce was kind and Rooney managed to get his body in the right position to send his shot flying into the Wolves goal.
Ferguson felt sufficiently emboldened to hand Ezekiel Fryers his Premier League debut, although it took some smart reactions from Rio Ferdinand, upon whom so much is now expected with Nemanja Vidic out for the season, to prevent United ending up in trouble after the England man's clearing header had comically smacked Smalling in the face.
United could have had a fifth six minutes from time but Roger Johnson was allowed to clear Jones' cross following a mazy run, with substitute Federico Macheda and Rooney waiting to pounce from close range.