If only this were the Manchester United of old, Villa might have come in expecting a win. But United aren't in the top four any more. Instead, they're a rather pedestrian "good" club. Exactly the sort of match that Villa have plenty of trouble with.
But only a few minutes in, Villa were given a prime free kick after a Rafael foul just outside the box. It was a bit surprising to see Ashley Westwood take it, but the results were undeniably wonderful:
But just as with last week, the early opener was an unexpected albatross, as Villa would then go on to concede a billion goals. The first came off of the foot of Wayne Rooney, when he entered a cheat code, became invisible, and found himself entirely unmarked in the middle of the box. The result was an easy goal:
The second goal for United also came off of the foot of Wayne Rooney as he stood over the spot to take a penalty. The call had been made after Leandro Bacuna made a rash tackle on Juan Mata in the box. In replay, it appears as if Bacuna may have gotten the ball, but the fact that it takes a slow replay and even then the answer is unclear means that the penalty was deserved. Bacuna should have never left his feet to tackle in the box. The conversion was rather emphatic, by the way:
In the second half, Villa came out brightly. They'd have evened things up if Christian Benteke had been able to convert either of two easy chances. The first saw him in the box one-on-one with the keeper, and he took a mighty swing of his foot. Unfortunately his boot went over the ball while the spheroid sat grimacing waiting to be struck. The second chance came off of a beautiful Marc Albrighton cross, but Benteke sent the header inches high.
So it was that Villa found themselves in a position to be down two goals when Juan Mata scored a powerful strike to all but seal the match:
It wasn't a great day from Villa, but it also wasn't as bad as the terrible showing against Stoke. It would've been daft to expect anything from a trip to Old Trafford, and the early bit of hope doesn't change that. This was Manchester United. They were always going to score three goals. They just happened to add a fourth and Villa just couldn't keep pace.