Manchester United beat Steven Gerrard’s Aston Villa 1-0 in the third round of the Emirates FA Cup at Old Trafford, earning a fourth round place in which they will face Middlesbrough at Old Trafford next month. Scott McTominay opened the scoring in the eighth minute of the match after Fred played the ball into the box. It was a rather uninspiring victory for United, keeping a clean sheet even though Villa scored twice with one goal disallowed for a foul in the run up to the goal, the other being an offside goal. Gerrard will be annoyed with the result, but for him it was deserved. Villa will face United again in five days time.
United did not start all that brightly against Villa with Steven Gerrard’s side quickly advancing and trying to cause damage against a side with one of the weakest defences in the Premier League. United seem to panic when their opposition is attacking – and that tends to cause mistakes to happen with United conceding goals that should not be conceded. However, that said, United averted any danger – although no through good defending, it was probably luck. In the eighth minute of the match, Fred played the ball into the box from a distance, met Scott McTominay who headed straight into the back of the net to put United ahead.
It was Villa who had most of the possession in the first half of the match but it was United who were doing so much more with the ball. They had more shots and just looked better in Villa’s final third – which was a great start. Gerrard won’t be at fault though as he’s that way inclined. He would probably get a mate to take the blame. United had a fair few chances in the second half, which they should have really taken as it could be something to look back on later in the match, if it did not go their way. The winner will face Middlesbrough at home in the fourth round of the Emirates FA Cup this season and Gerrard will want that match.
Villa did have a chance on goal but the ball his the inside of the crossbar, which was a shock for United. It was not meant to be for Villa though. It seemed that Diogo Dalot’s night was at an end in the first half too after he received a cut to the ankle, but after a brief time on the sidelines, he was able to continue – to the annoyance of Aaron Wan-Bissaka, who was going to replace the Portuguese right-back. United were still in the lead at the break, which would have given them something to build on for the second half, but it would also restore confidence, especially in the dressing room during the break.
There were no changes at the start of the second half for either team. Villa seemed more determined to get something from this match from the start of the half, and just five minutes into the half, Danny Ings looked to have scored the equaliser. It was a free-kick taken by John McGinn with the ball staying in the air for some time. Edinson Cavani was running into the box, keeping up with Ezri Konsa and it seemed he was fouled in the box. Konsa then played the ball into the middle, just missing Ollie Watkins and eventually coming off Ings’ thigh and into the back of the net. VAR was going to decide whether it was a goal or not.
The referee had to look at the goal, eventually deciding that it was not a goal because of the foul on Cavani. No card was issued and Villa seemed lucky that nothing further happened. Tempers were flaring after that with Villa more determined to get something from the match and it not (yet) working for them. Fred was United’s first player to be booked in the 65th minute of the match, with Jacob Ramsey booked in the 11th minute of the match. United still had not improved and were seemingly inviting Villa on them, which was putting United under a lot of pressure. In the next few minutes, both Luke Shaw and Dalot were both booked.
Rangnick made his first substitution in the 72nd minute of the match with Donny van de Beek replacing Cavani, which is something that Villa would have been happy with. United had a great chance after the substitution with Mason Greenwood doing the hard work and Rashford letting the attack down, seemingly not wanting to score a simple goal. The England forward really needs to start taking his chances and finding some form or he will end up being kept out of the team more often. United desperately need a second goal to win this match or they could be playing extra time if Villa get a late goal and nobody wants that.
A double substitution was made by United with around five minutes of normal time remaining. Jesse Lingard and Anthony Elanga replaced Bruno Fernandes and Rashford as United headed into added time. Villa made another change too. There were six minutes of added time that United needed to weather to get into the fourth round of the FA Cup. It was a largely uninspiring match, but that has been the case of late and it does not seem that United will be changing that any time soon. United dug deep and got the win they wanted, not necessarily the win that they deserved. United face Villa again in five days time, this time at Villa Park.
Goals: Scott McTominay 8′
Assists: Fred 8′
Manchester United: De Gea; Dalot, Lindelof, Varane, Shaw; Fred, McTominay; Fernandes (Lingard 85′), Rashford (Elanga 86′); Greenwood, Cavani (Van de Beek 72′)
Substitutes Not Used: Heaton; Telles, Wan-Bissaka; Mata, Matic; Amad
Bookings: Fred 65′, Luke Shaw 68′, Diogo Dalot 70′; Jacob Ramsey 11′
Written by John Walker