Manchester United claimed another important three points in the race for the Barclays Premier League’s top four, thanks to two goals from Ander Herrera and another from Wayne Rooney.

Herrera put the Reds ahead two minutes before the break with a neat finish and Rooney fired a superb second from Angel Di Maria’s cross.

Christian Benteke instantly brought the visitors back into it, but Herrera sealed a fifth consecutive league victory for the Reds in injury time.

Herrera’s first came at an important time for Louis van Gaal’s side, who had dominated in the Easter sunshine at Old Trafford but were in danger of being frustrated by the relegation-haunted visitors.

The Reds had a strong penalty appeal turned down in the fifth minute, when Marouane Fellaini ran onto a long ball and cushioned it into the path of Rooney, who was set to pull the trigger when he appeared to be dragged back by Ciaran Clark, but referee Roger East was unmoved.

Villa fashioned their only real opening of the half moments later as Gabriel Agbonlahor almost found himself through on goal, but Phil Jones forced the striker wide and Antonio Valencia blocked his shot from an acute angle.

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