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Ratings: Fernandes, Greenwood and Cavani save the day for United at Villa; City’s title celebration delayed once again…

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Manchester United beat Aston Villa 3-1 at Villa Park in the Premier League. Bertrand Traore opened the scoring in the 24th minute of the match which meant that United had to come from behind again, winning 31 points from these situations in the league this season. Bruno Fernandes equalised form the penalty spot in the 52nd minute of the match with Mason Greenwood putting United ahead four minutes later. United scored a third through Edinson Cavani in the 87th minute just before Ollie Watkins got himself sent off for a dive, earning a second yellow card in the match. Three more points well deserved at the Villa.

It was a good start for United against Villa. Marcus Rashford had an attempt blocked in the fifth minute of the match which was played in by Paul Pogba. A minute later, Luke Shaw was on the attack for United, played in by Rashford but his shot was saved by Emiliano Martinez. Villa then had a chance through Anwar El Ghazi, whose shot was off target. Fred was then the next United player to have a chance, which forced another save from Martinez. United seemed determined to get something early on and were continuing to go for it. In the twelfth minute, both Ross Barkley and Bertrand Traore had chances but both shots were blocked.

In the 16th minute, Bruno Fernandes had a chance to find his 27th goal of the season, playing in by Rashford and firing towards goal from the left of the six-yard box but it was off target. United were having plenty of chances in the early stages of the half but would need to do better. Villa took the lead in the 24th minute of the match, two minutes after Mason Greenwood’s effort, with Traore finding the back of the net with a stunning finish. United would need to battle back once again this season, which is something they have done time and time again to win matches both at home and on the road.

United were creating themselves many chances but Villa were also pressing forward. Fernandes had another shot on goal in the 35th minute of the match but it was too high to hit the target after Rashford played the ball into him. In the 40th minute of the match, Greenwood ran the ball towards the box and played it in to Pogba, who tried to find the back of the net with the Villa defence panicking and managing to clear the danger with Pogba still searching for a goal. United then started to press high up the pitch with Harry Maguire, who passed the ball to Pogba, who again lost possession with Villa then countering United’s attack.

United did not seem to get anything positive in the first half, having a fair few chances with nine shots one goal and four of those on target, also having the Lion’s share of possession but they needed to show more desire in the second half. At the end of the first half, Ollie Watkins was booked for a late challenge on Maguire with the United defender clearing the ball before the challenge came in. United needed to be wary of this Villa side, who did everything right in the first half. Perhaps Solskjaer would need to say something during the break to get his side fired up for the second half with Manchester City 45 minutes away from winning the league.

There were no changes from either side at the start of the second half but United would need to work much harder to get something from this match. United started to attack again, as they were doing in the first half and Pogba worked his way into the box, threatening on the ball. Douglas Luiz fouled the Frenchman and the referee awarded a penalty which Bruno Fernandes converted, scoring his 27th goal for the club in all competitions this season. City would need to wait before celebrating their title win. It was a great finish by Fernandes who made the goalkeeper dive in the wrong direction, hitting the back of the net at the near post.

Four minutes after equalising, United were ahead for the first time in this match. Aaron Wan-Bissaka played the ball into Greenwood, who then carried the ball before firing his left-footed shot from the right side of the box into the bottom corner of the net. It was Greenwood’s 11th goal of the season but also his 16th in the Premier League as a teenager, breaking Wayne Rooney’s record for the club which is great to see. In the 65th minute of the match, Greenwood was replaced by Edinson Cavani, with United seeking to see this match out and drive for the victory. Harry Maguire was booked in the 67th minute of the match with United still on top.

Maguire seemed to get a knock a few times and despite coming back on after some treatment, came back on but could not continue. Solskjaer replaced him with Eric Bailly, which was a shame as he was not able to play every minute in the Premier League, which he had done since he signed for the club. However, that was likely to end this week anyway. Hopefully the captain is fine to continue for the club later this week against Liverpool. It was expected that he would be rested against Leicester City anyway, as that was the impression the Solskjaer gave on Friday. In the 86th minute, Nemanja Matic replaced Fernandes with United looking to keep their lead.

Ollie Watkins tried to get one over Dean Henderson in the 89th minute but Henderson pulled his leg back as Watkins was diving. It was suggested that it was a penalty but the referee saw it the other way, as did VAR and the striker, already on a yellow from the first half was send off and will miss the next match for his club. There is no need to dive when you are losing. If a United player did this, every football supporter would be moaning about it. In this instance, many will say nothing. United deserved their win and will be looking ahead to the Leicester match now with one full day to recover before match day.

Manchester United

26 Dean Henderson

Unfortunate to concede the opening goal which saw Villa take the lead. Saw his side scored three in the second half, therefore winning 31 points from behind in the league this season. Also saw Watkins send off for a dive, aiming to win a penalty. Also prevented an own goal by Maguire.

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29 Aaron Wan-Bissaka

Needs to offer more going forward. Got an assist for Greenwood's goal which put United ahead. His defensive ability cannot be questioned - that is the strong part of his game.

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2 Victor Lindelof

Should have stopped Traore ahead of his goal but acted weakly. Also gifted Watkins a chance to equalise, so he needs to brush up on his defence a bit more.

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5 Harry Maguire

Did well against Villa and seemed to be at the top of his game at times. Got forward when he could and led his side well. Seemed to get a knock in the second half and could not continue. Was replaced by Bailly in the 78th minute.

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23 Luke Shaw

Played well in attack and had a shot on goal, drawing a save. He should be proud of his performances this season. He is arguably the best left-back in the country right now.

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17 Fred

Despite his performances this season, this was not one of the better ones. Needs to buck his ideas up at the club or could find himself benched or sold in the summer if a better player comes along.

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39 Scott McTominay

Was not his best performance for United and I feel he should find a way to find his form as he has shown glimpses of that this season, especially if he wants to start in Gdansk in just over a fortnight.

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10 Marcus Rashford

Had some involvement in the match but does not seem to have benefited from more than a week with no football. Got an assist for Cavani's goal at the end of the match but needs to start scoring himself.

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18 Bruno Fernandes

Performed towards the best of his ability and had a few shots on goal in the first half. Scored the penalty, which saw United level in the 52nd minute of the match and helped United find another which happened minutes later. He was replaced by Matic in the 86th minute of the match with United seeing out their lead, but they scored a minute after the substitution, securing their lead and win.

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6 Paul Pogba

Played well with Shaw just behind him and got into some good positions. Won the penalty which saw United go level. Lost the ball at times, but it happens.

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11 Mason Greenwood

Played well as the striker against Villa. Was unlucky at times but got United ahead in the 56th minute of the match, scoring his 11th goal of the season and breaking Rooney's record of 15 Premier League goals as a teenager at the club. He was replaced by Cavani in the 65th minute.

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Substitutes

7 Edinson Cavani

Replaced Greenwood 65'. Unplayable. Perhaps should have started but fatigue from Thursday needs to be managed, so it was right for him not to. Scored his 15th goal of the season, scoring his eighth goal in seven matches.

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3 Eric Bailly

Replaced Maguire 78'. Needs a good defensive outing, which he might get on Tuesday. Made some last-ditch blocks and clearances.

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31 Nemanja Matic

Replaced Fernandes 86'. Came on to sure up the defence and did what he needed to do, even if it was a cameo appearance.

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Goals: Bertrand Traore 24′; Bruno Fernandes 52′ penalty, Mason Greenwood 56′, Edinson Cavani 87′

Assists: Aaron Wan-Bissaka 56′, Marcus Rashford 87′

Manchester United: Henderson; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire (Bailly 78′), Shaw; Fred, McTominay; Rashford, Fernandes (Matic 86′), Pogba; Greenwood (Cavani 65′)

Substitutes Not Used: De Gea; Telles, Williams, Tuanzebe; Mata, Van de Beek

Bookings: Ollie Watkins 45+1′, 89′ s/o, John McGinn 79′; Harry Maguire 67′

Written by John Walker

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