Aston Villa couldn’t hold onto their lead against Manchester United this afternoon, with Douglas Luiz conceding a penalty and Ollie Watkins sent for an early bath.
Words: Regan Foy | @findfoy
Aston Villa hosted Manchester United at Villa Park this afternoon, as their female counterparts played their final game of the season in the Women’s Super League, hoping to avoid relegation. Dean Smith named an unchanged side from the one that took three points away from Everton last weekend.
Manchester United started the game with attacking intent, testing Emiliano Martinez on a handful of occasions in the opening five minutes. The visitors looked sharp initially as Aston Villa struggled to get into the United half.
Around the ten minute mark, Aston Villa had started to grow into the game and enjoy longer spells of possession, including a number of corners that were fired into the Manchester United box but to no avail.
Bertrand Traore would be the player to open the scoring. John McGinn won the ball back with a high press, before Douglas Luiz found Traore with his back to goal. The winger cut onto his strong foot, rushed into the box and fired towards goal, finding the far top right corner as Henderson stood rooted at the near post.
As expected after Aston Villa taking the lead, the game opened up somewhat for both sides, with both defences being tested as the game trickled towards the half time whistle.
Three minutes before the end of the half, Ezri Konsa looked to be hurt after challenging for a ball in the box against Bruno Fernandes. It looked to be an impact injury, but the centre-half looked able to continue after a short spell of treatment.
Ollie Watkins was booked just before half-time for a challenge on Harry Maguire, before forcing Henderson into a save shortly after as the whistle then blew.
Villa ahead at half-time thanks to Traore’s stunning goal.
There were no changes for either side as they found their way back onto the pitch after the break.
Anwar El Ghazi had a strong chance from the edge of the box as Aston Villa looked to break, but his shot was collected well by Henderson. There would have been an offside in the build-up had the shot found the back of the net.
Unsurprisingly, Manchester United were awarded a penalty in the 51st minute as Douglas Luiz fouled Paul Pogba in the box after the Frenchman held the ball up well against the Brazilian. Bruno Fernandes stepped up to take the penalty and fired to the bottom right, sending Martinez the wrong way.
Five minutes later, and Manchester United had the lead. Greenwood held the ball well in the box, turning Tyrone Mings, and fired into the bottom left corner.
Bertrand Traore almost levelled the scores on the hour mark as he met the end of a Matt Targett cross, but Henderson was able to palm the ball wide for a corner.
In the 65th minute, Jacob Ramsey replaced Douglas Luiz for Aston Villa.
Ten minutes later, and Aston Villa made a double change, replacing both Ross Barkley and El Ghazi with Wesley and Keinan Davis.
Despite prolonged Aston Villa pressure, the home side could not get close enough to scoring, and were made to pay the price three minutes before the end of the 90. Edinson Cavani snuck in at the far post to a curling ball in, heading into the net past a rooted Emiliano Martinez.
Ollie Watkins was sent off in the 88th minute, receiving a second yellow card for simulation. He dived at the feet of Henderson who had rushed out to meet the forward, but the referee judged that the ‘keeper had made no contact.