Manchester United kept the pressure on 'noisy neighbours' Manchester City at the top of the Barclays Premier League with a hard-faught 1-0 win over Aston Villa.
Sir Alex Ferguson's side knew a victory was needed in their late kick-off after earlier results had moved the Red Devils into third, but Phil Jones strike kept the league leaders gap at five points.
In a match that lacked quality and was disrupted by injuries, the visitors overcame the early loss of Javier Hernandez to show their title credentials and grind out a result.
The Mexican went off after 12 minutes with suspected ankle ligament damage, but it was left to the versatile Jones to score the only goal of the game eight minutes later. Playing in midfield, the England defender finished a Nani cross after timing his run from midfield to perfection.
After being beaten, Shay Given was forced to limp off later in the period after making a fine save from Nani, with a hamstring injury appearing to be the cause of the Irish international stopper's problems.
Little else of significance happened in the half, but the Villains showed some life at the start of the second 45 with Emile Heskey heading over the bar of Anders Lindegaard.
The Dane was chosen ahead of the rested David de Gea, and made a great save with just 15 minutes remaining as James Collins looked to head an equaliser for Alex McLeish's side.
Wayne Rooney has a late chance to seal the points but fired high over the bar of substitute Brad Guzan, but Villa were unable to create another chance of note and the points go back to Old Trafford.
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