Player Ratings: Casemiro & Lindelof starred in United’s victory over Villa; Fernandes with a great finish

Martial does not do the job of a striker anymore - out of form and out of luck

Manchester United beat Aston Villa 1-0 at Old Trafford in the Premier League. United dominated Villa in the first half but took until the 39th minute to open the scoring. Marcus Rashford had a shot on goal, which was parried by Emiliano Martinez only for Bruno Fernandes to find the back of the net with the rebound. United managed to keep it that way with David De Gea getting his 15th clean sheet in the Premier League this season.

United started well against Villa at Old Trafford, immediately getting on the attack. Bruno Fernandes was caught offside after Marcel Sabitzer tried a through ball into him in the first minute. United were again caught offside in the fourth minute with Sabitzer offside after Jadon Sancho tried to find him. United had a third offside in the opening stages with Marcus Rashford offside after Sabitzer tried a through ball into him. United needed to be much better.

Rashford had the first shot on goal of the match in the 12th minute after Fernandes found him with a through ball. However, the England forward saw his shot saved by Emiliano Martinez. Christian Eriksen had a shot on goal a minute later after a United corner, but he missed the target. Sabitzer then had a strike on goal in the 14th minute, but he also missed the target. United had two more offsides in the 18th and 19th minutes with Eriksen and Sancho caught.

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Villa has a shot on goal in the 19th minute of the match through Álex Moreno but David De Gea made the save to deny Villa from opening the scoring. John McGinn had a shot in the following minute, missing the target after a shot of resurgence from Villa. In the 28th minute of the match Casemiro hit the crossbar with possible the best chance of the half so far. After some end to end football, United were starting to dominate a bit more just after the half hour.

In the 39th minute, United broke forward on the attack with Casemiro playing the ball into Rashford, who was running up the left flank. The England forward tried to cut into the box and launch his shot but Martinez made the save, parrying the ball to the right. Bruno Fernandes then latched onto the ball firing into the back of the net from close-range to put United 1-0 up after some good individual performances in the match. Ten Hag would have been pleased by that.

In added time at the end of the first half, Eriksen had a shot on which which was blocked before Fernandes had another shot, which was saved. The half ended 1-0 to United with more to be done in the second half of the match to get all three points as Villa have been a threat this season. United had eight shots on goal – four of them on target with 64% possession of the ball. United will need to ensure they have the ability to close down this match and ensure a victory.

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At the start of the second half there were no substitutions for either team. Douglas Luiz had a shot on goal for Villa in the 50th minute of the match, but it was blocked. Victor Lindelöf then had a shot in the 53rd minute, missing the target. Jacob Ramsey then had a shot on goal on the hour but it was blocked. Villa made a double substitution in the 64th minute with Calum Chambers and Bertrand Traoré replacing Ashley Young and Leander Dendoncker.

Casemiro had a shot on goal in the 67th minute which was saved by Martinez. John McGinn missed the target at the other end of the pitch a minute later. Rashford then saw an attempt blocked in the 70th minute. In the 73rd minute, Casemiro had another chance on goal but he missed the target. Villa then made another double substitution in the 75th and 76th minute of the match with Lucas Digne and Jhon Durán replacing Álex Moreno and Emiliano Buendía.

United also made a double substitution in the 76th minute with Fred and Antony replacing Christian Eriksen and Jadon Sancho. There was little happening in the match for a period of time after the United substitutions.nIt seemed to be end to end football with no major chances coming for either time. United were still on top in the game and 1-0 up but they needed to ensure they held on to get all three points from the match, to help secure the three points needed.

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In the 86th minute of the match United made another double substitution with Harry Maguire and Anthony Martial replacing Marcel Sabitzer and Marcus Rashford. Fred was booked for a foul in the 87th minute of the match, which was coming ever since he replaced Christian Eriksen. United did what they needed to to in order to keep Villa at bay as they were pushing to try and find the equaliser towards the end of the match. United defended astutely.

In the third minute of added time, Antony had a shot on goal after being played the ball by Martial but it was saved by Martinez. Tyrell Malacia was booked in the fifth minute of added time before Calum Chambers had an attempt on goal, which was blocked. United weathered the late storm from Villa, keeping the scoreline at 1-0, taking all three points and keeping another clean sheet, which is the 15th for David De Gea in the Premier League this season.

United stay fourth in the Premier League as Newcastle United overcame Southampton, who led in he first half to get all three points, keeping them in third with a two-point lead, although United have a game in hand over them. United are seven points clear of Liverpool, who are in fifth place – with a game in hand over them too. Which means they are likely to qualify for the UEFA Champions League next season. Three more wins could cement that for Ten Hag’s side.

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Player Ratings

David De Gea: The Spanish goalkeeper blocked Alex Moreno’s shot at 0-0 and also headed an effort away, coming out of his area when Villa threatened. It was his 15th clean sheet in the Premier League this season. ★★★★★★★

Diogo Dalot: Back in the right-back position. Defended well against the narrow Villa side. He did not get that much impact in the final third though, which is needed from that position. He needs to settle at right-back again. ★★★★★★

Victor Lindelof: This was his fifth successive start as a central defender and it was another fine performance from the ice man. He coped well against Ollie Watkins and headed an effort off the line. What a defender. ★★★★★★★★

Luke Shaw: Played in the centre of the defence once again and has become the go-to player to play in the centre of the defence during an injury crisis. He asserted his authority against Watkins, which was good to see. ★★★★★★★★

Tyrell Malacia: The Dutchman played his best first half in months for United. He made two good tackles on John McGinn and Ashley Young. He needed to make more of the space available in the final third though. ★★★★★★

Casemiro: The Brazilian defensive midfielder started impressively against Villa, striking the crossbar and heading the ball to Marcus Rashford, which resulted in Bruno Fernandes’ goal. Maintained throughout. ★★★★★★★★

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Bruno Fernandes: The Portuguese midfielder played predominantly on the right, as he did against Villa in November. He scored his 11th goal of the season – winning the match for United. What a captain he is. ★★★★★★★

Marcel Sabitzer: The Austrian brought energy to the midfield and the attack and had some great efforts on goal. He did not give what some of his teammates did, but he was still effective. Replaced by Maguire. ★★★★★★

Christian Eriksen: Saw a lot of the ball and sought out passes to make regularly, but seldom found the openings. He did not seem happy with his performance but he will recover from that. Replaced by Fred. ★★★★★★

Jadon Sancho: Gave Ashley Young an uneasy afternoon at his former home. There was some good bursts from him with some good interplay too but he never created a decent chance against Villa. Replaced by Antony. ★★★★★★

Marcus Rashford: Got on the end of the good chance to put United ahead but Emiliano Martinez made the save to deny him. He had a weaker shot which led to a goal in the end. Not the greatest performance. Replaced by Martial. ★★★★★★

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Fred: Replaced Eriksen 76′. Showed willingness when he came on. Also seemed like a booking was coming, which it did. He will be seeking more minutes in the coming weeks as some players could be rested. ★★★★★★

Antony: Replaced Sancho 76′. Seemed to be lively but had a weak shot at Martinez which did not get United anywhere. He seemed to want to make something happen though, which was good to see. ★★★★★★

Harry Maguire: Replaced Sabitzer 86′. The United captain come off the bench and helped the defence for the last few minutes and added time. He made a few clearances as United held on to win the match. ★★★★★★

Anthony Martial: Replaced Rashford 86′. The Frenchman was lethargic once again. There has got to be a time that he realises that he needs to perform, not keep riding on the coat tails of his teammates. ★★★★★

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Match Information

Goals: Bruno Fernandes 39′

Assists: N/A

Manchester United: De Gea; Dalot, Lindelof, Shaw, Malacia; Casemiro; Fernandes, Sabitzer (Maguire 86′), Eriksen (Fred 76′), Sancho (Antony 76′); Rashford (Martial 86′)

Substitutes Not Used: Butland; Wan-Bissaka, Williams; Pellistri; Weghorst

Bookings: Fred 87′, Tyrell Malacia 90+5′

Written by John Walker

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About editor 2194 Articles
I support Manchester United, the greatest English football team to have ever existed. Bruno Fernandes is the latest in a long line of players with great ability to play for the club. I idolised Bryan Robson, David Beckham, Paul Scholes, and Eric Cantona growing up.