Manchester United delayed the coronation of our rivals and neighbours Manchester City as Premier League Champions for another game as we came from behind again to beat Aston Villa 3-1. We had dominated the early stages of the games as United went on the front foot. The intensity was there and we created a few half decent chances with Paul Pogba and Luke Shaw proving effective down the left hand side.
The Red Devils lost some of that intensity they had as we let our opponents gain more of a stronghold in the game. Villa also started to press more heavily as the United players were pushed back into their own half. We had defended a number of corners really well but then a momentary lapse in our defending cost us. The deadlock was broken by Aston Villa’s Bertrand Traore in the 24th minute. He capitalised on a mistake by Victor Lindelof to fire the ball past Dean Henderson into the top corner of the goal.
It was a comedy of errors in terms of defending. Both Scott McTominay and Fred failed to stop Douglas Luiz’s pass into Traore. Then, Lindelof took a touch of the ball but ultimately it went back into the path of the Villa player who rifled home. To be fair, it was a good goal they had scored and I don’t mind that fact. However, we are making silly mistakes when it comes to conceding goals. At points this season this has cost us in other games we’ve played.
Make sure to catch our review of the game in the link below:
United did bounce back after this as we looked to be more offensive in our attacking trying to find the equaliser before half time. We had a couple of chances as Bruno Fernandes tried a speculative effort when he saw Villa’s goalkeeper Emiliano Martínez off his line. An opportunity also arose for Marcus Rashford, but his side-foot effort from outside the box was easily saved.
Aston Villa nearly could have made it 2-0 before half time. Ollie Watkins was presented with the chance but his effort was comfortably saved by Henderson. United headed into the half time break only 1-0 down and we knew they were very much still in the game. We just needed to stay calm, put more pressure on the Villa defence and take our opportunities when they come.
United fight back again
The Red Devils came out for the second half and were producing the same energy and vigour as we saw in the first ten minutes of the first half. In an exactly identical incident during our game at Old Trafford back on the 1st January, Villa’s Douglas Luiz gave a foul away on Paul Pogba inside the box on the 51st minute with the referee pointing straight to the penalty spot.
It was a smart pass from Aaron Wan-Bissaka that unlocked the space for Pogba to work in, which then tempted the Villa player into the foul. Bruno Fernandes superbly slotted home the penalty kick to give us parity with Villa.
United then stepped it a gear. We grabbed our second of the game in the 56th minute when Mason Greenwood beautifully turned Tyrone Mings before he fired the ball into the bottom left corner of the goal.
You forget that Mason is only 19 years old and has become the top-scoring teenager in the Premier League for United with 16 goals surpassing the legendary Wayne Rooney. Though his form had dipped in the first half of the season, he now seems to be back firing on all cylinders.
Aston Villa tried to press their way back into the game, as they chased for an equaliser themselves. This was after United lost captain Harry Maguire to injury that hopefully does not keep him out for the rest of the season according to some reports.
It would be United smiling all the way at the end when Edinson Cavani came off the bench to slot home a beautiful header in the 87th minute to seal all three points. The game ended with ten men for Aston Villa as Ollie Watkins picked up a second yellow after he was adjudged to have dived after going down from a challenge from goalkeeper Dean Henderson.
This win and Everton subsequently beating West Ham in the later game means that United have secured a top-four place in the Premier League and Champions League qualification. It is a busy week for us this week as we play Leicester City and Liverpool on Tuesday and Thursday respectively. So Ole will have to rotate his squad to avoid the risk of injury / burnout to players.
Man of the match: Luke Shaw