Manchester United moved on from their loss to Aston Villa on Sunday by beating Aston Villa on Thursday, winning 4-2 after a thrilling 6-goal second half. It started with a dreadfully boring first half from both teams, but the entertainment kicked on and United got the goals going to advance in the League Cup.
The match began as it would go for much of the first half, slow and disjointed. Both teams struggled to find a rhythm, though United looked the more dangerous of the two. Long balls over the top to Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial, as well as a nicely coordinated press from the front, gave Villa some scary moments, but multiple offside calls and some squandered chances kept the sides level at the break.
The second half on the other hand was a completely different story.
It started in a flurry, with Aston Villa finding the breakthrough goal on 48 minutes. Ollie Watkins charged in and scored, only for United to find an equalizer just seconds after the restart. Dalot played a quick ball over the top for Bruno Fernandes, who was free to play it across to Martial for a tap in. Nice to get a goal for the Frenchman in his first start since going off injured at Everton, and capped a good performance from him before being subbed off.
Changes came soon for Aston Villa, and they paid off quickly. Leon Bailey in particular was dangerous and forced a goal after getting header at the back post that Diogo Dalot sent into his own net. It was a bit unfortunate for Dalot, but deserved from Villa.
Erik ten Hag had to make changes of his own, and made three to try and get United in control of the match. They worked, and the direct style of play led to more chances. An excellent ball over the top from Malacia out wide sent Rashford through on goal, and though he created space to shoot past a defender his effort was wide of the target. He would get another chance just moments later however, first sending through Eriksen and then receiving, turning under pressure, and firing United level again from close range.
The game swung United’s way after that, with Eriksen particularly helpful in midfield and Garnacho on the left relentlessly putting Villa’s defense under pressure in and out of possession. They found the eventual winner on 78 minutes, with Bruno Fernandes capping a good performance with a goal of his own just a minute missing a shot from distance.
Things were finished off in stoppage time by Scott McTominay, who put a striker’s finish on the end of a beautiful looping cross from Garnacho to make it 4-2 on the night.
Not the prettiest game, but a good opportunity to rotate ended up paying off for ten Hag. Four different names on the scoresheet and some promising performances from youngsters Malacia and Garnacho especially, not to mention Rashford keeps up his scoring this season. They go on to Sunday with just one more Premier League match against Fulham before taking a break for the World Cup.