Two goals in four early second half minutes saw Manchester United overturn a half-time Aston Villa lead on their way to a 3-1 defeat of their hosts at Villa Park to keep their faint title hopes alive.
Bertrand Traore found the top of the far corner of the net on 24 minutes to consolidate a sustained push early in the game as the Villans led 1-0 at the half without much argument.
A Bruno Fernandes penalty (52) and Mason Greenwood’s smart finish on the edge of the box (56) swung momentum in the North East outfit’s direction before an Edison Cavani header in the 87th minute saw the game off amid renewed attacking pressure from Villa late on.
Ollie Watkins was sent off in the 89th minute for a second yellow card offence after being judged to have dived in a one-on-one with Dean Henderson, the United keeper.
Villa unable to keep a cool head
Manchester United controlled large portions of the game, including early on, forcing Emi Martinez into a number of smart saves, but after Bertrand Traore put Villa ahead; the game looked well poised going into the half-time break.
United went on the attack to start the second half and capitalized on mistakes at the back as their momentum increased. The penalty decision was more clear cut than those awarded in recent previous meetings as Douglas Luiz unsuccessfully attempted to win the ball as Paul Pogba was facing away from goal and blocking the ball from view.
The visitors then kept the pressure on for a second, with Mason Greenwood able to hold the ball up on the edge of the box perfectly to shield it from Tyrone Mings, who overextended, allowing the 19-year-old to strike at the near post.
Once again, Villa have shown their capability to attack the top sides, but also that they are still a bit away from comfortably competing and playing with a lead against these sides.
Cooler heads would’ve seen the hosts at least hold the lead for longer as they looked relatively in control until the penalty came.
An interesting development was to see Dean Smith bring on both Keinan Davis and Wesley late, sending Watkins to the left wing. It seemed to solidify attacking options going forward and did have United on the back foot until they ended the match in a comfortable fashion with their third.