Shinji Kagawa scored a hat-trick as Manchester United beat Norwich at Old Trafford and extended their lead at the top of the Premier League to 15 points.
United deservedly opened the scoring when Kagawa volleyed past Mark Bunn in first-half stoppage time.
Norwich pressed for an equaliser but Kagawa ended their hopes with a neat finish before dinking a third.
Wayne Rooney sealed the victory with a stunning effort as United warmed up for the visit of Real Madrid in style.
Three days before their visit in the second leg of the Champions League last 16, the Spaniards will take note of the ruthless manner in which Norwich were killed off.
In fact United were not at their best, but nor did they need to be, a low-key match wrapped up in comfortable fashion later on.
With a healthy lead over Manchester City and that crucial European match looming, Ferguson made six changes, so the anticipated 1,000th senior appearance by Ryan Giggs - a day after signing the new contract that will take him into a 23rd season at the club and past 40 years of age - would have to wait for another day.
"Manchester United are 15 points clear at the top of the Premier League. They also sent out a little bit of a message to Jose Mourinho and Real Madrid. They have a new hat-trick hero in Shinji Kagawa and there was a spectacular strike from old favourite Wayne Rooney."
But there was no shortage of attacking quality, Robin van Persie and Rooney lining up in attack as Antonio Valencia and Kagawa provided ammunition from wide.
Norwich, the last team to beat United in the top flight, actually made the stronger start, Bradley Johnson failing to pick out an unmarked Grant Holt with a disappointing left-wing cross.
However, United's central midfield pairing of Michael Carrick and Anderson swiftly began to dictate the tempo and it was not long before Ferguson's men found themselves camped in opposition territory.
Bunn raced off his line to foil Van Persie after the Dutchman played a one-two with Rooney, but the goalkeeper should have done better as United took the lead moments before half-time.
Just when it seemed Norwich had reached the break unscathed, Van Persie deflected Valencia's cross into Kagawa's path and the Japanese midfielder sent a low strike past Bunn at his near post.
The visitors carried a far greater threat in the second period and Russell Martin - who did not appear to know Holt had been penalised for climbing on Patrice Evra in the build-up - shot over from close range when it seemed easier to score.
Chris Hughton then introduced Kei Kamara, fresh from his goalscoring cameo against Everton, and the Sierra Leone striker was denied by some dogged defending from Jonny Evans.
Kagawa makes history
Shinji Kagawa is the first player from Asia to score a Premier League hat-trick
That proved a pivotal moment, however, as Carrick found Rooney with a long pass and the England striker teed up Kagawa to coolly wrong-foot Bunn and double the lead.
The same man then raced through to chip his hat-trick and Rooney got in on the act with a stunning long-range fourth.
Norwich manager Chris Hughton:
"Conceding just before half-time hurt us but we were still very much in the game.
"We conceded a poor second. You have to make decision - settle for that or give yourself an opportunity to get back into the game. When you try to get back into the game you open up and there's no better team than united to capitalise.
"This was never going to define our season, but we're certainly disappointed.
- 01 De Gea
- 03 Evra
- 06 Evans
- 12 Smalling
- 15 Vidic
- 07 Valencia
- 08 Anderson (Cleverley - 74' )
- 16 Carrick
- 26 Kagawa
- 10 Rooney
- 20 Van Persie (Welbeck - 66' )
- 13 Lindegaard
- 02 Rafael
- 17 Nani
- 18 Young
- 23 Cleverley
- 14 Hernandez
- 19 Welbeck
- 28 Bunn
- 02 R Martin
- 05 Bassong
- 06 Turner Booked
- 18 Garrido Booked
- 04 Johnson Booked
- 07 Snodgrass Booked (E Bennett - 73' )
- 08 Howson
- 12 Pilkington
- 14 Hoolahan (Kamara - 72' )
- 09 Holt (Becchio - 90' )
- 42 Camp
- 03 Whittaker
- 24 R Bennett
- 15 Fox
- 17 E Bennett
- 16 Kamara
- 19 Becchio
Live Text Commentary
Full Time The referee signals the end of the game.90:00 +0:17 Substitution
Substitution Grant Holt leaves the field to be replaced by Luciano Becchio.89:11
The assist for the goal came from Danny Welbeck.89:11 Goal scored
Goal! - Wayne Rooney - Man Utd 4 - 0 Norwich Wayne Rooney finds the net with a goal from outside the box to the top left corner of the goal. Man Utd 4-0 Norwich.86:23
Wayne Rooney provided the assist for the goal.86:23 Goal scored
Goal! - Shinji Kagawa - Man Utd 3 - 0 Norwich Shinji Kagawa gets on the score sheet with a goal from close in high into the middle of the goal. Man Utd 3-0 Norwich.81:09
Tom Cleverley restarts play with the free kick.81:09 Booking
Booking Michael Turner booked for unsporting behaviour.80:33
Unfair challenge on Danny Welbeck by Michael Turner results in a free kick.79:10
Bradley Johnson fouled by Antonio Valencia, the ref awards a free kick. Javier Garrido takes the free kick.77:07
Danny Welbeck takes a shot. Save by Mark Bunn.75:40
Wayne Rooney provided the assist for the goal.75:40 Goal scored
Goal! - Shinji Kagawa - Man Utd 2 - 0 Norwich Shinji Kagawa gets on the score sheet with a goal from inside the box to the bottom right corner of the goal. Man Utd 2-0 Norwich.72:29
Free kick taken by Michael Carrick.72:29 Substitution
Substitution Tom Cleverley replaces Oliveira Anderson.72:29 Substitution
Substitution (Norwich) makes a substitution, with Elliott Bennett coming on for Robert Snodgrass.72:29 Booking
Booking The referee books Bradley Johnson for unsporting behaviour.72:23
Foul by Bradley Johnson on Wayne Rooney, free kick awarded.71:17 Substitution
Substitution Wesley Hoolahan leaves the field to be replaced by Kei Kamara.69:06
Patrice Evra is flagged offside by the assistant referee. Mark Bunn restarts play with the free kick.
Michael Carrick restarts play with the free kick.68:20 Booking
Booking The referee shows Javier Garrido a yellow card.68:13
Antonio Valencia fouled by Javier Garrido, the ref awards a free kick.67:15
Russell Martin fouled by Danny Welbeck, the ref awards a free kick. Russell Martin takes the free kick.64:39 Substitution
Substitution Robin van Persie leaves the field to be replaced by Danny Welbeck.64:39
Wayne Rooney produces a right-footed shot from the edge of the box and misses to the left of the goal.61:55
Grant Holt gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Patrice Evra. David De Gea takes the direct free kick.59:04
Jonathan Howson takes a shot. Michael Carrick gets a block in. Outswinging corner taken from the right by-line by Anthony Pilkington.58:11
Inswinging corner taken by Anthony Pilkington, Nemanja Vidic makes a clearance.54:19
Free kick awarded for a foul by Nemanja Vidic on Grant Holt. Direct free kick taken by Robert Snodgrass.53:34
The assistant referee signals for offside against Robin van Persie. Direct free kick taken by Mark Bunn.52:22
Wayne Rooney decides to take the corner short.50:20
Corner taken left-footed by Robert Snodgrass, Nemanja Vidic manages to make a clearance.49:13
Jonathan Howson concedes a free kick for a foul on Patrice Evra. Free kick taken by Shinji Kagawa.45:56
Chris Smalling concedes a free kick for a foul on Anthony Pilkington. Javier Garrido restarts play with the free kick.45:01
The second half has started.45:00 +4:02 Half time
Half Time The ref blows to end the first period.45:00 +3:44
Robin van Persie produces a left-footed shot from just outside the area that goes harmlessly over the target.45:00 +2:29
Nemanja Vidic takes the direct free kick.45:00 +2:29 Booking
Booking Robert Snodgrass is cautioned by the ref for unsporting behaviour.45:00 +2:21
Free kick awarded for a foul by Robert Snodgrass on Patrice Evra.45:00 +0:56
Robin van Persie provided the assist for the goal.45:00 +0:56 Goal scored
Goal! - Shinji Kagawa - Man Utd 1 - 0 Norwich Shinji Kagawa fires in a goal from close range to the bottom right corner of the goal. Man Utd 1-0 Norwich.45:00 +0:22
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Jonny Evans by Jonathan Howson. Oliveira Anderson restarts play with the free kick.44:56
Corner taken by Wayne Rooney, Jonathan Howson manages to make a clearance.44:29
Robin van Persie takes a shot. Blocked by Michael Turner.36:57
Foul by Jonathan Howson on Oliveira Anderson, free kick awarded. Oliveira Anderson takes the free kick.35:35
Inswinging corner taken by Robin van Persie, Jonathan Howson makes a clearance.34:46
Shot from just outside the box by Robin van Persie goes over the bar.33:02
Wayne Rooney takes a shot. Blocked by Russell Martin.32:11
Wayne Rooney takes the inswinging corner, clearance by Grant Holt.31:07
Wayne Rooney takes a shot. Sebastien Bassong gets a block in. Corner taken by Robin van Persie, Michael Turner makes a clearance. Wayne Rooney takes a inswinging corner from the left by-line to the near post, clearance made by Grant Holt.30:48
Wayne Rooney takes a shot. Blocked by Michael Turner.30:03
Unfair challenge on Antonio Valencia by Grant Holt results in a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Jonny Evans.25:35
Inswinging corner taken left-footed by Robin van Persie from the right by-line, Sebastien Bassong manages to make a clearance.24:24
Michael Carrick takes a shot. Save by Mark Bunn.21:33
Bradley Johnson concedes a free kick for a foul on Michael Carrick. Nemanja Vidic takes the free kick.17:40
Free kick awarded for a foul by Grant Holt on Nemanja Vidic. Patrice Evra takes the direct free kick.17:04
Free kick awarded for a foul by Robin van Persie on Mark Bunn. Javier Garrido takes the free kick.14:00
Foul by Grant Holt on Nemanja Vidic, free kick awarded. Nemanja Vidic takes the free kick.12:39
Robin van Persie fouled by Sebastien Bassong, the ref awards a free kick. Free kick taken by Robin van Persie.10:32
The offside flag is raised against Robert Snodgrass. Patrice Evra restarts play with the free kick.6:37
Anthony Pilkington challenges Chris Smalling unfairly and gives away a free kick. Free kick taken by Jonny Evans.4:46
The assistant referee flags for offside against Antonio Valencia. Mark Bunn restarts play with the free kick.1:11
Robert Snodgrass concedes a free kick for a foul on Shinji Kagawa. Oliveira Anderson restarts play with the free kick.0:00
The ref blows the whistle to start the match.
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