Goals from Ashley Young and Javier Hernández at the 59<sup>th and 85<sup>th minute respectively helped Manchester United secure a comfortable win over Holland giants Ajax, taking them a step closer to the round of 16 in the Europa League 2012.
Both sides, who were keen to gain an advantage in this first leg of the round of 32 encounter, started off defensively, carefully studying each other's moves.
The first shot on goal came only after 17 minutes of play when defender Dico Koppers (who intercepted a Jonny Evans pass) managed to dodge past Nani only to get a weak shot, which was easily gathered by De Gea.
United launched a counter-attack led by Rooney, who also only managed to get a tame shot off which was saved by Ajax goalie Kenneth Vermeer.
The first half was full of half chances blocked by the respective goalies. The only notable effort came through Siem de Jong, who managed to get some power into his 25-yard attempt that had De Gea making an impressive full length dive.
Ajax, who had dominated most of the first half, nearly went one down in the first few minutes of the second half as a shot from winger Nani was just tipped over by Vermeer.
The Red Devils, who were now looking confident, pressed on and their efforts soon bore fruit when Young, off a Nani rebound effort, hammered the ball past Vermeer putting his side in front at the 59<sup>th minute.
Soon afterwards, Armenian star Aras Ozbiliz nearly brought his side back but his left-footed attempt soared over the Red Devils' crossbar.
A series of substitutions (Bulykin and Koppers were replaced by Ricardo Van Rhijn and Nicolai Boilesen) along with tactical changes were made by Ajax, who were desperately searching for a goal.
Although the Red Devils continued to attack, Ajax were looking more dangerous as the second half wore on.
At the 67th minute, Danish Striker Eriksen, who had made an impressive run, muscled past United's defence into their goal, but the well struck shot was punched away by De Gea.
Despite Ajax's several attempts on goal, Man Utd managed to strike again at the 85th minute via Hernández (off a Rooney pass), who managed to sneak a low shot past Vermeer to seal the match.
The two teams will next meet on 23 February at Old Trafford for the second leg of the round.