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Manchester United 4-1 Aston Villa: Mata opens his account in big win

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United ran out 4-1 winners over Aston Villa on Saturday, though the game wasn't quite as one-sided as the scoreline suggests.

Alex Livesey

Manchester United returned to Premier League winning ways with a 4-1 victory at home to Aston Villa on Saturday, though it wasn't quite as convincing a victory as it sounds. The Villans sliced United over several times throughout the game, but fortunately Christian Benteke's finishing was as disappointing as Nemanja Vidić's defending.

United started poorly, with Villa comfortably controlling the game throughout the opening ten minutes. It wasn't long before they had their reward, with Ashley Westwood curling a free-kick into David De Gea's top corner; the Old Trafford silence broken only by the buzzing plane overhead and the retaliatory boos from sections of some of the United support.

But within ten minutes, the hosts were level. It was a goal from nothing, with Shinji Kagawa cutting inside and delivering a good cross for an inexplicably free Wayne Rooney, who glanced the ball beyond Brad Guzan.  Unfortunately that didn't spark a spell of United domination, with the game floating by without anything ever actually seeming to happen.

United looked pretty underwhelming on the ball, with no amount of slick touches negating the overall absence of a pattern of play. When Leandro Bacuna brought down Juan Mata in the penalty area on the stroke of halftime, with Rooney stepping up to seal his brace, United seemed to lead by default rather than on merit.

That certainly should've changed within ten minutes of the restart, with Christian Benteke spurning two incredible chances for the visitors -- the first when it quite literally looked easier to miss the target. Villa were comfortably as deserving of the advantage as United, but were made to pay for their poor finishing just short of the hour, when Mata stabbed the ball past Guzan in a crowded penalty area for his first goal in red.

After the third the game petered out into a fairly one-sided affair, with Villa easing off and allowing United to add another. Substitute Adnan Januzaj came off the bench to deliver a perfect cross for fellow substitute Javier Hernández, who slid the ball inside Guzan's post.