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Aston Villa 1-3 Manchester United: Comeback win strengthens Reds’ grip on second place

United came from behind to beat Aston Villa in Sunday’s Premier League clash.

Aston Villa v Manchester United - Premier League Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images

Manchester United maintained their remarkable Premier League away record courtesy of a 3-1 win at Aston Villa on Sunday. It was a close game, and Villa drew first blood through Bertrand Traoré midway through the first half. Bruno Fernandes levelled things up from the penalty spot early in the second, before goals from Mason Greenwood and Edinson Cavani sealed the victory for Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s side.

United had the better of a tight first half, and carved out a couple of early goalscoring opportunities. A smart one-two between Luke Shaw and Marcus Rashford culminated in a shooting chance for the full-back, but he lashed straight at Emi Martínez from an angle. A few minutes later, Fernandes pounced on the ball in the Villa box but snatched at the chance, shanking it wide of the near post.

Villa had offered little in attack, but took full advantage of a momentary defensive lapse to break the deadlock midway through the first half. John McGinn won the ball in United’s third and offloaded to winger Traoré, who Cruyff-turned his way into the penalty area. Victor Lindelöf was in close proximity and might have smashed the ball into touch, but instead he hesitated, allowing Traoré to clip a beautiful shot across Dean Henderson and into the top corner.

United remained in control for the remainder of the half, and saw plenty of possession in and around the Villa box. However, thanks to some impressive defending the hosts restricted United to little more than half-chances, including a tame effort from Rashford shortly before halftime. Minutes later, Fernandes drove towards the byline and drilled a low ball into the six-yard box, which defender Ezri Konsa scrambled to safety after almost scoring an own goal.

Having made a bright start to the second half, United were rewarded with a penalty when Villa midfielder Douglas Luiz brought Paul Pogba to ground five minutes after the restart. Fernandes stepped up and rolled the ball into the bottom-right of Villa’s goal, having sent keeper Martínez the wrong way.

Five minutes later, United were in front. It was entirely the result of some slick attacking play from Greenwood: out on the right side of the box and with his back to goal, the young striker received a low pass from Aaron Wan-Bissaka and rolled away from Tyrone Mings, burying the ball inside the near post with his left foot. Poor defending perhaps, but Greenwood still had an awful lot to do, and made it look easy.

Villa almost hit straight back, with a deep, curling cross from left-back Matt Targett doing the damage. With Traoré lurking, Harry Maguire threw himself at the ball, and would’ve put it into his own net were it not for an alert Henderson save. Midway through the second half, substitute Edinson Cavani was on hand to carry out important defensive duties, flicking an Ollie Watkins header behind for a corner with Anwar El Ghazi hovering on the goalline.

The hosts continued to pile on the pressure into the final few minutes, and Solskjær introduced Nemanja Matić in place of Fernandes in a bid to shore things up. However, with just a couple of minutes left on the clock, Cavani sealed the points with a goal of his own, glancing a peach of a Rashford cross inside Martínez’s far post for 3-1. Things went from bad to worse for Villa seconds later, when striker Watkins was adjudged to have dived in the United box, and was sent off for a second yellow card.