Goals from the returning Robin van Persie and England International Ashley Young proved the un-doing of some stout defending from the Bluebirds to consign City to a 2-0 defeat at Old Trafford.
United started brightly and found themselves 1-0 up at the break after taking an early lead through Robin van Persie. In the second half, David Moyes’ men pushed forward and doubled their lead through Ashley Young.
The home side then stormed forward in search of a third but a combination of solid defending and an on form David Marshall denied them.
On his return to Old Trafford, Solskjaer made a number of changes to the team which progressed in the FA Cup fourth round on the weekend with Craig Bellamy, Declan John, Jordon Mutch, Gary Medel, Steven Caulker and Fraizer Campbell starting.
The main talking point in the Manchester United line-up was the inclusion of new signing Juan Mata and Robin van Persie. Wayne Rooney began on the bench.
With the unveiling of Mata taking place yesterday, the Old Trafford crowd were in a buoyant mood and were soon celebrating a goal after six minutes.
A dangerous cross ball in was rifled goalwards by van Persie, with David Marshall was on hand to make the save. He was helpless with the rebound however, as the Dutchman rattled the ball home in front of the Stretford End.
City’s only shot on goal in the first 20 minutes came through on form winger Craig Noone who let fly from 25 yards but saw his effort fly over the crossbar.
After 23 minutes, Cardiff were awarded their first corner with skipper, Mark Hudson seeing his header blocked by the feet of De Gea.
When in possession, Man Utd were a constant threat with van Persie leading the forward line and after 32 minutes he saw a shot zip inches wide of Marshall’s far post.
Cardiff looked to respond on the counter and in the following attack a dangerous McNaughton cross was asking to be nodded goalwards but Bellamy failed to connect properly.
HALF TIME: Manchester United 1-0 Cardiff City
At the start of the second half, Ole was forced into a change as Kim Bo-Kyung replaced Jordon Mutch just five minutes into the second period after a knock.
For a short time after the break, Cardiff were passing the ball crisply and looking dangerous through Noone once again.
However with 58 minutes on the clock the home side were two goals to the good through a fierce Ashley Young strike from outside the box which thundered beyond the helpless Marshall.
The home side’s mood was boosted further after 62 minutes when Wayne Rooney took to the field in place of Robin van Persie. Just a minute later, Jonny Evans went close to notching United's third when he saw an effort from outside the box whip wide of the target.
10 minutes later, United’s substitute, Rooney unleashed a whipping shot which Steven Caulker shut down but the ball hit his back and flew inches wide of the target.
United refused to relent but Cardiff provided stiff resistance with City's Scottish goalkeeper pulling off an outstanding save once again, touching a Valencia shot onto the far post.
After his impressive debut on Saturday, Mats Møller Dæhli replaced Craig Noone after 77 minutes and paired with Fraizer Campbell up front. The young Norwegian looked dangerous but was unable to make the impact he had at the Reebok Stadium.
As the game drew to a close, Cardiff pushed for a late goal but were unable to convert, allowing Manchester United to collect all three points.
FULL TIME: Manchester United 2-0 Cardiff City
Manchester United: De Gea; Rafael, Smalling, Evans, Evra; Valencia, Jones, Giggs (Cleverley 71), Young; Mata (Januzaj 84), van Persie (Rooney 63). Subs not used: Lindegaard, Fletcher, Kagawa, Hernandez.
Goals: van Persie (5), Young (58)
Cardiff City: Marshall, Caulker, Hudson (c) (Turner 67), John, McNaughton, Medel, Whittingham, Noone (Daehli 78) Mutch (Kim 51), Bellamy, Campbell. Subs not used: Lewis, Eikrem, Gunnarsson, Berget
Attendance: 75,301 (Old Trafford, Manchester)