With a top-4 Premier League finish now almost secured, Manchester United looks to maintain their perfect away record against Aston Villa – a side that hasn’t defeated them in the league in over 20 years. They did just that with a dominant 3-1 win – coming back from a goal down to maintain their reputation as the comeback kings!
Despite United dominating the majority of the possession early on, it was Villa who scored against the run of play when Bertrand Traore blasted the ball into the top corner to make it 1-0 in the 23rd-minute. The Red Devils dominated 61% of the possession and had 4 shots on target – but went into the break behind.
United started the second half brightly and earned a penalty in the 50th-minute – which the specialist Bruno Fernandes scored in flamboyant fashion to make it 1-1. The Red Devils then completed another comeback six minutes later – when Mason Greenwood delicately slotted the ball past Emiliano Martinez.
Super-sub Edinson Cavani then sealed the deal with a sumptuous header in the 87th-minute to make it 3-1. Second-Half FC was in full effect to produce another comeback win – which is incidentally the 10th time United have done it in away games this season! The perfect away run stays in tact too and Man City have to wait to confirm their title win too.
Manchester United player ratings vs Aston Villa
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (7.5)–
With 2 more games coming in the next 5 days, Solskjaer surprised some with going with his strongest XI barring Cavani. Was perhaps a bit frustrated with the first-half performance and his half-time team talk worked again! Not sure what he tells them, but United were more motivated to demolish Villa after the break and get another comeback win.
Subbing in Cavani also paid dividends as he scored the late goal. Ole will have a few headaches on what team he fields in the Leicester & Liverpool games, but will be a happy man with his side’s dominant performance today.
Dean Henderson (6.5) –
Dean couldn’t do anything to save Traore’s brilliant goal but denied Villa a second at the end of the first-half, producing a sharp save to deny Watkins. Makes another sharp save to deny El Ghazi in the 50th. Then another impressive stop to deny Traore a second in the 60th. Saved whatever Villa threw at him and did well moving the ball around too.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka (7.5) –
Wan-Bissaka is being afforded a lot of space to attack through the right-wing but his final delivery was disappointing in the first half. But learnt from his mistakes after the break and cleverly found Greenwood for his goal. Defensively comes up big in the 82nd – making a strong tackle to deny Watkins a goal-scoring chance. An overall impressive performance from AWB despite the moments of frustration.
Harry Maguire (7.0) –
Facing up against the feisty Ollie Watkins, Maguire has to be at his sharpest to keep him down. Nearly scored a surprising goal before the hour-mark but his header went wide. Neutralized Watkins’ threat really well with solid defending and was faultless apart from that yellow card he picked up.
But had to go off late on after seemingly suffering an injury – one United will hope isn’t that bad with some big games ahead.
Victor Lindelof (5.0) –
Lindelof just wasn’t strong enough with his tackle and gave Traore a bit too much space for his goal. Looked a bit nervy when dealing with one-v-one challenges and was outmuscled on multiple occasions. Made some clutch challenges but definitely has to be sharper to help United keep clean sheets in the next few games.
Luke Shaw (7.0) –
The best left-back in England almost has a perfect start with a brilliant run in the box in the 6th but his shot was saved well. This was arguably Shaw’s best performance defensively in months – as he kept both Traore and Cash quiet. Created a few decent chances as well and maintained his high-performance levels with another solid effort.
Scott McTominay (6.0) –
The Scottish midfielder started the game a bit sluggish in possession and was the one who lost the ball before the opener. Improved after that one, shielding his backline with his physical presence and helping move to the ball from out of defence. Didn’t create much offensively, but at least he was defensively sturdy enough to help keep Villa at bay.
Fred (6.5) –
Fred’s looking to get more involved in the attack and tried his shot with a long-ranger in the 8th that was saved by the keeper. Moved the ball forwards impressively all throughout the game and helped neutralize Villa’s supply flow through the middle, making crunching tackles and hassling them with his energetic presence.
Bruno Fernandes (7.0) –
Without a PL goal in over 5 games, Fernandes seems hungry to end his drought. Got into a scoring area inside the area in the 16th but toe-poked his shot wide. Ends his goal drought with a cool penalty to score the equalizer. A really active figure in the attack today, moving all around the frontline to cause problems.
Created a few decent chances too but unlucky not to get an assist as they were wasted. Subbed towards the end for a defensive change.
Paul Pogba (7.0) –
Pogba is linking up really well with Rashford on the left-wing to create chances. Got into some promising areas in the first half but couldn’t get any shots on goal. Starts the second half sharply and cleverly attracted a silly foul from Douglas Luiz to earn his side the penalty resulting in the equalizer.
Pogba was at the heart of nearly every single of United’s swift breaks and sliced open Villa’s shape with his delightful forward passes multiple times. Again effective from that inverted left-wing role that he seems to have perfected.
Mason Greenwood (7.5) –
Nearly popped into a scoring area in the 4th but his attempt went well wide. Burst into the box in the 39th – but saw his shot from an awkward angle saved.
Finally gets a shot from inside the box for his goal – brilliantly shifting Mings away and powering the ball into the bottom corner. That goal was proof itself that he should play centrally rather than isolated in the right. Subbed for Cavani after a really lively performance.
Marcus Rashford (7.0) –
Rashford’s operating as a no.9 today. Took an ambitious attempt to shoot from a narrow-angle in the 4th and saw his attempt nearly deflect its way to assist a goal for Greenwood. Linked-up with his teammates pretty well and had a decent shot from outside the box parried out in the 38th.
Took another shot from outside the box in the 62nd – only for his shot to deflect just wide. After working hard, he gets some reward as his impressive cross was converted by Cavani for his strike. Rashford played in all 3 attacking positions today but his record & style suggests he should operate through the left. AN efficient performance from him today.
Edinson Cavani (7.5) –
Cavani was a bit too flashy immediately after coming on but he made his impact late on, scoring a brilliant header from close to seal the win for United.
Eric Bailly (N/R) –
Brought on for the injured Maguire, Bailly helped maintain a mean defensive line to get the job done in the end.
Nemanja Matic (N/R) –
Matic helped see United over the line – aiding the backline with his brutish presence and hassling the Villa forwards.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Greenwood was a real electric figure in the frontline and scored a beautiful centre-forward’s goal to complete the comeback for United. He’s my MOTM for today.