Manchester United plunged Aston Villa deeper into relegation trouble with a routine 3-0 win at Villa Park on Thursday night.
Surprisingly, struggling Villa started brightly with Trezeguet striking the post early on. However, the home side’s good work would be undone when they conceded a (very) controversial penalty which was calmly dispatched by Bruno Fernandes just before the half hour mark.
After this, United took control of the game and doubled their advantage via a fine strike from Mason Greenwood on the stroke of halftime.
The visitors’ dominance continued after the break and a well worked corner routine allowed Paul Pogba to make it 3-0 with a cultured finish. Following their third goal United eased off the gas, coasting to their fifth straight win in all competitions.
Here’s 90min’s verdict on the game..
Key Talking Point
Where else can we start than with that penalty decision. Before Ezri Konsa ‘brought down’ Fernandes ‘inside’ his own 18-yard box, Villa were very much in the ascendency.
The forwards were causing United all manner of problems and Trezeguet was even a width of the post away from giving the hosts the lead. After the controversial spot kick, the tide of the change shifted massively and Villa never regained the upper hand.
Although points against a resurgent United was never really on the cards, Dean Smith will be concerned by his players’ lack of resilience after conceding. It really does not bode well for their survival fight.
Starting XI: Reina (6); Konsa (5), Hause (5), Mings (4), Taylor (5); El-Ghazi (4), Luiz (5), McGinn (5), Trezeguet (6*); Grealish (4), Samata (4)
Substitutes: Vassilev (5), Nakamba (5), Hourinhan (5), Davis (5)
STAR MAN – Trezeguet
The slimmest of slim pickings; Trezeguet was just about the best of the bunch for Villa. He hit the post at least – more than what the rest of their forward line could muster.
Key Talking Point
An unchanged team and an unchanged result. United’s near-flawless post-lockdown record continued against Villa but the scoreline does not tell the whole story.
In the opening exchanges there was a whiff of complacency about the visitors’ performances. Passes were misplaced, 50/50s were lost and things just didn’t seem to click for Ole Gunnar Solskajer’s side.
Though United soon took control of the game after converting the controversial penalty this casual attitude may worry Solskjaer.
It is important to remember that the Red Devils are not over the line yet and with tough tests against Southampton, Chelsea and Leicester to come, they must maintain their recent intensity until the end of the season.
Starting XI: De Gea (6); Wan-Bissaka (6), Maguire (7), Lindelof (6), Shaw (7); Matic (7), Pogba (8), Bruno (9*); Greenwood (8), Rashford (7), Martial (8)
STAR MAN – Bruno Fernandes
You must be bored of reading it and we’re also bored of writing it – but once again United’s star man was the mesmerising Bruno Fernandes.
Yes, the penalty was soft but it was only given due to the midfielder’s intelligent body positioning and he also racked up yet another assist for Pogba’s goal. It really is difficult to put his season-changing influence into words.
Manchester United’s push for Champions League qualification continues against Southampton on Monday night. Aston Villa meanwhile, will be desperate to beat Crystal Palace on Sunday as their continue to battle against relegation.