Match Report | Teams | Highlights | Post-Match Reaction
Manchester United 1 Aston Villa 0
A Bruno Fernandes goal, late in the first half, was enough to beat Aston Villa and move Manchester United closer to Champions League football next season. The deserved victory ended Villa’s ten-game unbeaten run and increased United’s lead over the clubs chasing the top-four places.
Eric ten Hag put out a changed side from Thursday’s collapse. Fernandes moved to the right allowing Sabitzer to join the midfield two of Eriksen and Casemiro, with Antony dropping to the bench. Malacia replaced Wan-Bissaka at right back, possibly to keep Wan-Bissaka fresh for the Brighton game. From early on, it was clear the plan was to play balls over the top of the high Villa line for runners beyond. United set about their task with relish, creating chance after chance, but Villa should’ve taken the lead when De Gea stopped Moreno’s shot amid penalty claims from the Villa players. It was a chance against the run of play but the best chance of the first twenty minutes and a wake-up call for the United players.
Outside of isolated moments, Villa were unable to put any real pressure on United for the rest of the half and their high defensive line was coming closer to being breached as time wore on. In the thirty-ninth minute, that line had pushed up almost to halfway for a goal kick and were punished as Casemiro’s headed clearance sent Rashford through on goal. Martinez, the Villa keeper, could only parry the shot clear, and an onrushing Fernandes finished from a tight angle.
United turned up the pressure for the rest of the half but couldn’t get a second, leading to a nervous second half. There was no collapse today, though. United defended stoutly, with Lindelof having one of his best performances in a United shirt, including a couple of goal-saving moments. Had they been more clinical in attack, it could easily have been a more flattering scoreline, but United will be satisfied with the three points.
De Gea, Dalot, Lindelof, Shaw, Malacia, Casemiro, Eriksen, Sabitzer, Fernandes, Rashford, Sancho.
Subs: Butland, Maguire, Martial, Fred, Antony, Weghorst, Pellistri, Wan-Bissaka, Williams.
Martinez, A.Young, Konsa, Mings, Moreno, Dendoncker, Luiz, McGinn, Ramsey, Buendia, Watkins.
Subs: Olsen, Carlos, Traore, Chambers, Duran, Digne, Revan, O’Reilly, K.Young.