Aston Villa were the better side against Manchester United – but it wasn’t enough as a Scott McTominay goal proved to be the difference.
Words: Regan Foy | @findfoy
Aston Villa travelled to Old Trafford this evening for a third round FA Cup tie against Manchester United. No replays – a path into the next round awaited the victor. Steven Gerrard, as expected, named a full-strength side – as did Manchester United.
The first chance of the evening came the way of Manchester United, with McTominay firing from range. It was an easy shot for Martinez to gather, as he clutched it gratefully into his chest at the first time of asking.
McTominay, however, would the man to open the scoring. A home corner resulted in the ball settling outside of the box for Fred, who curled a ball into the box with his left foot. McTominay beat the majority of Aston Villa’s defence – who found themselves stuck following Fred’s cross – and headed the ball past Emiliano Martinez.
Ollie Watkins had a chance at the far post just minutes later, as Mings headed the ball on towards the other side of the box where Lindelof attempted to head away – into the path of Watkins. The Villa forward couldn’t quite get an attempt on goal and the ball bounced out for a goal kick.
Emiliano Buendia had an opportunity in the 13th minute, worming his way through Manchester United’s defence before striking a half-pass half-shot towards the far post. Danny Ings couldn’t connect with the ball, and it trickled out of play.
John McGinn produced a sweet shot from outside of the box just seconds before the 20 minute mark which was rocketing towards De Gea’s top left, but the Spaniard was quick to the ball and able to palm it away with a strong hand.
At the half hour mark, Ollie Watkins had a superb opportunity to level the score. Lindelof switched off after a long ball from Mings and his poor touched allowed Watkins to press and win the ball. He cut inside onto his right, slipped as he shot and struck the bar.
Aston Villa were swarming over Manchester United, and certainly asking questions of the home side. Shot after shot after shot – just no goal.
Sloppiness did creep into Aston Villa’s game, which allowed the home side a path “back” into the game, despite being ahead.
After three minutes of added time at the end of the half, the sides went in for the break. Aston Villa were behind, but the better of the two teams.
Within five minutes of the second half, Aston Villa thought they had equalised. Michael Oliver had to check the screen after a lengthy VAR delay – with the goal being ruled off for Jacob Ramsey blocking the path of Edinson Cavani – after checks on a possible offside, a possible handball and the aforementioned block. It seemed like they were trying to look for any reason to rule the goal out.
Eight minutes later, and the ball was in the back of the Manchester United net again. Danny Ings found himself one on one with De Gea, before chipping the ‘keeper and putting in Ollie Watkins, who fired into an empty net. However, Danny Ings was offside in the build-up.
As the game edged towards the 70th minute, Aston Villa continued to be the better team – and Manchester United started to struggle. Fred, Dalot and Shaw were all yellow carded within a period of five minutes.
Steven Gerrard’s first sub came 12 minutes before time, replacing Emiliano Buendia with Anwar El Ghazi. Eight minutes later, and Jaden Philogene-Bidace replaced Jacob Ramsey.
There were six minutes added at the end of the 90.
Despite a spirited display from Aston Villa, in which they had the vast majority of attempts, it’s a VAR decision that has knocked the Villans out of the FA Cup this time around.
Positives to take ahead of another game against United on the weekend.