Bruno Fernandes netted the only goal of an entertaining game as Manchester United beat Aston Villa 1-0 in Sunday’s Premier League clash at Old Trafford. The win strengthen’s United’s grip on the top four, extending their lead over fifth-place Tottenham Hotspur to nine points with a game-in-hand.
Erik ten Hag made two changes to the side that threw away a two-goal lead at Tottenham Hotspur in midweek, with Tyrell Malacia and Marcel Sabitzer returning to the starting lineup, and Antony and Aaron Wan-Bissaka dropping to the bench.
United made a bright start to the match, with Marcus Rashford’s darting runs posing problems for the visitors’ high defensive line. Rashford was denied from an angle by Emi Martínez inside the opening quarter-hour, and Marcel Sabitzer lashed over the crossbar from the edge of the box.
Villa gradually grew into the game, and their best chance soon followed. A low cross from Emi Buendía trickled across the six-yard box and past the on-form Ollie Watkins; Álex Moreno lashed goalwards at the far post, though his effort was turned around the post by David de Gea.
But when United finally scored five minutes before halftime, Villa could have few complaints. A smart header from Casemiro allowed Rashford to spring the offside trap; Martínez parried his low shot into the path of Fernandes, whose effort took a deflection over the keeper for his 100th career league goal.
The second half got off to a scrappy start, but United carved out a couple of half-chances before the hour. A low Malacia cross narrowly evaded an off-balance Rashford, shortly before the latter slalomed his way into the Villa box, only to be smothered by Villa keeper Martínez.
Villa saw more of the ball in the second half, but their search for an equaliser created chances for United on the counter. The hosts should have done better when they found themselves in a numerical superiority just past the hour, though Christian Eriksen made an uncharacteristically poor pass before screwing a harmless shot wide.
The visitors went perilously close to equalising with 10 minutes left, when some penalty box pinball culminated in a superb goalline clearance from Victor Lindelöf. A subsequent corner was glanced goalwards by Tyrone Mings, only to be blocked by his teammate Ezri Konsa. United withstood a late barrage to secure three points and tighten their grip on the top four.