London, England (CNN) -- On-form Wayne Rooney came off the bench to score the winner as Manchester United beat Aston Villa 2-1 in the English League Cup final at Wembley on Sunday.
United manager Alex Ferguson opted to rest the England striker, preferring Michael Owen in attack alongside Dimitar Berbatov.
Villa took the lead early on when James Milner converted a penalty after the pacey Gabriel Agbonlahor was pulled down in the box by Nemanja Vidic.
Vidic was lucky not to receive a red card as he appeared to be the last defender.
But United were back on level terms barely seven minutes later when Villa defender Richard Dunne lost the ball to Berbatov.
Dunne's attempt at recovering the situation succeeded only in diverting the ball to the on-rushing Owen. The former Liverpool and Real Madrid frontman slid the ball first time past Brad Friedel and into the net.
Owen, who has struggled to claim a regular starting place in the United side, was forced off just before the interval with a hamstring injury.
The stage was set for his replacement, Rooney.
The 24 year-old didn't disappoint as he nodded in a cross from Antonio Valencia with only 16 minutes remaining.
After the match, Ferguson told Sky Sports he decided to drop his match-winner for the game because of the number of key matches coming up for the club -- including the Champions League second leg tie against AC Milan.
"There are a lot of big games coming up now and that's why we didn't play him today, but he's had 45, 50 minutes," he said.
"Michael Owen had a great first half, but unfortunately he got a hamstring injury and had to come off with that. Wayne comes on and scores the winning goal. With the form he's in you expect that."
In the English Premier League, Tottenham Hotspur beat Everton 2-1 to regain fourth spot from Manchester City, who shocked leaders Chelsea 4-2 on Saturday.
First half goals from in-form Roman Pavlyuchenko and the influential Luka Modric put them in charge at White Hart Lane, but Ayegbeni Yakubu's reply just after the break set up a tense second half.
Liverpool stay a point behind in sixth place after a 2-1 home win over Blackburn with talismen Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres scoring.
Keith Andrews drew Blackburn level from the spot but Spanish striker Torres grabbed a valuable winner as he continues his comeback from an injury layoff.