Aston Villa 2-2 Manchester United: Premier League – as it happened
Jamie Jackson was at Villa Park tonight, and his report has landed. You know what to do: clickity click. Thanks for reading this MBM. Stay safe and warm, everyone. Nighty night!
Steven Gerrard’s turn. “Second half, we improved a lot, but it took some honesty at half time. For the first 25 minutes we were second best, we didn’t commit to what we wanted to do. We’d prepared in a positive way and wanted to jump on Manchester United, but credit to them, they were better than us throughout the first half. But the first goal came as a result of us being passive, giving corners away and silly fouls. I expected a reaction. It got worse at 2-0 but we rolled our sleeves up, we won duels and it was much more like how I want Aston Villa to play. If you don’t take the handbrake off, you’ll get picked off.”
Ralf Rangnick talks to Sky. “It is very difficult to find some positives. We had spells when I felt it was our best game since I came here. We dominated the game in the first 30 minutes. We could have scored two or three goals. We saw that we have taken some steps forward but still have to do better. When you are 2-0 up you have to defend it better. We gave away too many balls at times and were not compact. It feels like a defeat, to be honest. The team is very disappointed with the result, it feels like two points lost.”
Bruno Fernandes speaks to Sky. “We were in the perfect position to score even more goals and finish the game. But we don’t take our chances in the counter and our runs were not perfect. But they are a good team, they score and draw the game. It’s a tough one to take because the game was under control. The performance was better than the result. We probably had more control. But the main thing is to win games and points. We deserved more. But we have to improve. Performance and result together. I am happy to score but I prefer to win the game. Today, my goals make no sense, because we got just one point.”
Philippe Coutinho speaks to Sky. “I missed these games, I missed the Premier League. I am very happy to be here with my new team-mates. We had a good game, we kept believing. We didn’t lose, and we move on. I was a little bit nervous. I don’t speak English very well, I prefer to play, to be on the pitch, than keep talking. I want to work hard and improve, and be in better shape. I want to do a good job.”
Jacob Ramsey is by his side, and he explains how he felt scoring his first goal at Villa Park: “The Holte End, singing your name! Coming through the academy, that’s what dreams are made of. When the ball hit the back of the net, I was buzzing.”
Both players scored a goal and contributed an assist, so that’s a pair of feelgood interviews, right there.
That was a pulsating second half. Great entertainment. It looked as though two-goal Bruno Fernandes would be the story and the hero, but after a four-minute burst of creativity from debutant Philippe Coutinho, it’s all about Villa’s new playmaker. Jack who? United will be sick at letting a two-goal lead slip late on, but there were signs of some Rangnickian green shoots in their first-half performance, so it’s not all bad. Villa’s point moves them above Brentford into 13th, while United remain in seventh.
FULL TIME: Aston Villa 2-2 Manchester United
The Premier League welcomes back a top talent in Philippe Coutinho. Supporters of Manchester United are permitted to demur.
90 min +6: The ball breaks to De Beek, who doesn’t quite catch a shot that’s deflected wide left for a corner. Villa clear the set piece.
90 min +5: The first lull of the evening. How much extra time is left?
90 min +4: For a minute, it looks as though former Manchester United captain Ashley Young will get a run out against his old mates. But Buendia is cleared to continue playing.
90 min +3: Buendia is back up but looking groggy. With the game still to restart, Sky co-commentator Andy Hinchcliffe names Jacob Ramsey man of the match. That may be so, but Philippe Coutinho is the story.
90 min +2: Buendia is still getting attention. Steven Gerrard isn’t happy about the challenge, and makes his feelings known to the fourth official.
90 min +1: Matic comes through the back of Buendia, elbow meeting ear. That could easily have been a second yellow. He’s really in the last-chance saloon now. Fortunately there’s only a couple of minutes of stoppage time to go.
90 min: There will be four bonus minutes.
89 min: United make a double change. Greenwood and Fernandes are replaced by Lingard and De Beek.
87 min: Coutinho latches onto a loose ball on the edge of the United D and bobbles a shot straight at De Gea. Had his own man Ramsey not got in Coutinho’s way, United would have been in a world of trouble.
86 min: Chukwuemeka strips Fernandes in midfield and launches an attack. It comes to nothing, but the 18-year-old has looked confident and impressive since coming on.
84 min: Fred’s boot connects with Bundeia’s shoulder, but like Luiz on Fernandes earlier, it looked unintentional, if rather painful. Bundeia is soon back up on his feet.
82 min: A debut goal plus an assist: thirteen minutes that took Coutinho.
Updated at 7.29pm GMT
GOAL! Aston Villa 2-2 Manchester United (Coutinho 81)
Coutinho is back, baby. Buendia slips a perfectly weighted pass down the inside-left channel to release Ramsey into the box. Ramsey spots Coutinho haring in from the right. He rolls across the face of goal, past a haplessly sliding Varane, teeing Coutinho up at the far stick. He knocks into an unguarded net from a couple of yards, and that’s an assist and a goal on debut!
Updated at 7.19pm GMT
80 min: That’s the least Villa deserve for their second-half display, and it hasn’t taken long for Coutinho to reacclimatise himself to the Premier League. Cash meanwhile suffers a rush of blood and blooters a weird ball deep into the Holte End from distance.
78 min: With the game suddenly back on, Elanga is replaced by Sancho.
GOAL! Aston Villa 1-2 Manchester United (Ramsey 77)
Chukwuemeka’s first act is to exchange passes with Coutinho, who busies in from the left. Coutinho dribbles into the crowded box and slips infield for Ramsey, who slots into the top right from the penalty spot. A fine goal, and Villa are back in it!
Updated at 7.13pm GMT
77 min: Ings is replaced by Chukwuemeka.
76 min: Cash and Ramsey one-two down the right. Cash tears towards the byline, and flashes a cross through the box. Watkins can’t get much purchase on a header, and the ball sails out to the left.
74 min: A free kick for Villa, 35 yards out, just to the left of centre. Everyone lines up on the edge of the United box. The set piece is worked wide to Cash on the right, who crosses into the mixer. The ball nearly breaks to Coutinho, who is denied a dream start in a Villa shirt when Matic pokes the ball away from him, launching it at speed to De Gea, who kicks away. The ball’s swung back in again, Watkins eyebrowing a header wide left from close range. Villa have been much improved since the restart, but it doesn’t looks as though it’s going to be their night.
72 min: Digne drives down the left and earns a corner off Dalot. Coutinho races across to take the corner ... and scuffs it straight to Fernandes at the near post.
70 min: Greenwood nearly races clear down the inside-right, but is ushered away from danger by Mings, and is denied the opportunity to shoot. That’s fine defending.
69 min: Sanson sets about a pile of water bottles as he storms off, kicking them hither and yon, then plonks himself down on the bench with a face on.
68 min: That’s Sanson’s last contribution. He’s replaced by Coutinho, who returns to the Premier League after a four-year hiatus.
GOAL! Aston Villa 0-2 Manchester United (Fernandes 67)
Fernandes takes out his frustration on the ball, and how! Sanson’s poor pass back down the United right wing is snaffled by Fred, who shuttles infield for Fernandes. He takes a touch and lashes an unstoppable shot into the top right. A bad mistake by Sanson, but how Fernandes made him pay!
Updated at 7.08pm GMT
65 min: Fernandes falls to the floor. Luiz then stands on the back of his leg. It looked accidental, the Villa man’s gaze elsewhere, but that’s clearly not the opinion of the United captain, who has been on a rolling boil for a while.
63 min: Buendia slips Watkins into the Villa box down the right. Watkins tries to pill back for Ings in the middle, but can’t force the pass through. It’s a fun, open game, this.
62 min: Ramsey weaves his way down the middle, past Fred and Matic, and is crudely bodychecked on the edge of the United box. The referee contentiously waves play on, which, with the denizens of Villa Park furious, may then explain why he declines to book Luiz for a fairly obvious tug on Fernandes.
61 min: Fred slips Greenwood away down the right. Greenwood enters the box, reaches the right-hand corner of the six-yard box, and drags a shot across the face of goal and out for a goal kick. After a sluggish start to the second half, United are beginning to find their higher gears.
60 min: Cash carelessly gives away the ball on the edge of his own box. Elanga snaffles it, shifts it right to left, and sends a forensic low drive inches wide of the left-hand post. Martinez was beaten.
59 min: Greenwood glides in from the right and has a crack from distance. The ball takes a flick off the back of Mings and out for a corner on the left. Fernandes takes, swinging it viciously towards the near post. Watkins clears.
57 min: Just as the United press worried Villa in the first half, the home side are hassling the visitors in the second. United are making mistakes they weren’t making earlier. A loose pass in midfield allows Villa to swarm and counter, Buendia slipping Digne into acres down the left, Digne lashing an ambitious shot into the side netting.
55 min: Digne skins Dalot down the left and cuts back for Buendia, who meets the ball first time and aims for the top left from the edge of the box. He doesn’t quite catch it, and it’s an easy claim for De Gea.
54 min: Villa have enjoyed 75 percent of possession since the restart. They’ve notably upped the tempo.
52 min: Watkins accidentally catches Fernandes, who goes down dramatically. Watkins attempts to lift his opponent back up. Fernandes takes offence and a brief tussle breaks out. It’s all over as quickly as it starts. Fernandes isn’t happy, though. He was caught, but it didn’t look malicious.
Updated at 6.54pm GMT
50 min: Fernandes sends Greenwood into acres down the right. Mings does very well to slow Greenwood down. Greenwood eventually tries to slip Fred free but it’s a difficult pass and Martinez comes out to claim.
49 min: Ramsey sashays in from the left flank, exchanges passes with Sanson, and fires towards the bottom left. De Gea gets a strong hand to it and tips away.
48 min: Matic, already on a booking, clips Buendia to the floor. It’s not enough for a second yellow, but the United midfielder is walking a tightrope now.
47 min: The impressive Elanga enters the Villa box from the left and pearls a shot towards the near post. Martinez parries well and Villa clear. The 19-year old Swede looks the real deal.
46 min: Fernandes slides in ludicrously on Sanson and goes into the book. A completely pointless challenge, on the halfway line, his opponent going nowhere.
Villa get the ball rolling for the second half. Poor Konsa hasn’t been able to continue; he had a quick runout during half time and went straight back down the tunnel, shaking his head sadly and holding his side. He’s replaced by Hause.
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HALF TIME: Aston Villa 0-1 Manchester United
United started well, and took the lead through Bruno Fernandes, whose shot went straight through Emiliano Martínez, a shocker for the ages. Villa improved as the half went on, but they’re missing the artistry of John McGinn. Will we see Philippe Coutinho in the second half?
45 min +5: Telles romps down the left into acres of space. He pulls back to nobody, and Ramsey hacks clear.
45 min +4: Elanga’s low drive is deflected wide left of the Villa goal for a corner. Villa deal with the set piece easily enough.
45 min +2: Konsa is up again, but still doesn’t look happy. Villa will wait until the break to make a decision on whether to sub him off or not.
45 min: Konsa is still down. There will be at least three added minutes.
44 min: Elanga dribbles in from the left. He enters the box and takes a heavy touch, allowing Konsa to slash clear. Konsa immediately crumples to the floor, that hip still bothering him.
43 min: Cash curls in low and hard from the right. The ball goes all the way through to Digne, bombing in from the opposite flank. Digne hits it first time, and creams it, but straight at De Gea.
Updated at 6.17pm GMT
42 min: Now Elanga whacks Konsa on the hip. No booking for that, either, though the challenge was less egregious than Cash’s. Nevertheless, Konsa felt that, and takes a while to get back up, still holding his side.
41 min: Cash comes through the back of Elanga but for some reason avoids censure. He’s very fortunate not to go in the book.
39 min: Digne crosses dangerously from the left. Varane clears under intense pressure. Buendia nearly releases Cash down the right with a first-time flick. Not quite. Then another phase, as Ramsey, Digne, Ings and Luiz combine cutely down the left. Some crisp passing, but nothing opens up. A clear improvement on what’s gone before, though the bar was set low.
37 min: Villa pin United back for the first time this evening. Bundeia orchestrating much of their play. United hold firm, but this is much better from the home side.
36 min: ... Buendia meets the ball at the near post, flashing a header straight at De Gea, who nevertheless reacts well to block. Villa have finally turned up.
35 min: Villa win their first corner of the evening, out on the left. That leads to a corner on the right, and from that ...
33 min: Greenwood romps into the Villa box down the left and has a dig from a tight angle. Martinez parries, the ball looping up to Elanga, who can’t get purchase on a header. It’s a fairly hefty caveat, but Martinez has been very good apart from the monumental howler.
32 min: Villa take a touch in the United box! Cavani’s mistake allows the home side to counter, and Watkins is found in a bit of space down the left, just inside the area. He lines it up carefully, and aims a curler towards the bottom right. The telegraphed effort is easily gathered by De Gea.
31 min: Ings drops a shoulder to beat Matic down the right. Matic cynically clips him, and that’s a booking. Luiz takes the free kick, sending it into the mixer. It’s nowhere near any of his team-mates, though, and Fred traps and clears. Villa still haven’t had a touch in the United box.
30 min: Villa haven’t had a touch in the United box yet. “Fernandes looks exceedingly more confident with Ronaldo out of the team,” opines Ciarán Brennan. “I imagine he’ll be even more confident next year when Ronaldo won’t be in the country.”
28 min: Telles whips the free kick straight at Martinez, testing the keeper’s mettle. Martinez parries clear, but only to Greenwood, who whistles a low drive inches wide of the right-hand post. Not sure Martinez was getting to that, had it been on target.
27 min: Dalot checks in from the right wing and is scythed to the floor by Digne’s ludicrously late slide. A booking, and a free kick just to the right of the Villa box.
Updated at 6.02pm GMT
25 min: United are snapping into the press, and it’s making Villa extremely nervous. The Rangnick way beginning to bear fruit?
23 min: Elanga dribbles at speed down the left and enters the Villa box. He goes over with Sanson nearby, and claims a penalty. He’s not getting one. Cavani is quickest to the loose ball and flashes a shot-cum-cross through the six-yard box. Villa are all over the shop here.
22 min: Some sterile possession for Villa. Baby steps, small acorns, all that.
20 min: Nothing comes of the corner, and Cavani trots back onto the field of play, good to continue right now.
19 min: Before the corner can be taken, Cavani requires some treatment. He looks to have twisted his knee while lunging for that cross. He hobbles off the pitch, but there’s no sub. He’s going to try to run it off.
Updated at 5.52pm GMT
18 min: Villa stroke it around the back, with a view to settling down at last. There’s not much movement up front, though, and eventually possession is shipped in a jittery style. United pour forward, Telles crossing from the left. Cavani can’t connect in the middle, ten yards out, but the ball bounces further on for Greenwood, in plenty of space. Martinez redeems himself by racing out to Greenwood’s feet and winning the one-on-one battle. He parries out for a corner. Stunning save.
Updated at 5.54pm GMT
16 min: Mings plays a simple five-yard pass out of play. Villa are rattled. They looked slightly unsure of themselves even before Martinez’s howler. Very strange, given how well they played in patches at Old Trafford last Monday.
14 min: United are in complete control right now, pinging the ball around with calm confidence in their sky blue shirts. Squint and you could be watching Pep’s City.
12 min: Fred curls one in from the right. Elanga rises above Cash at the near post, and heads into the side netting. He should have done better, with Martinez, his head presumably swimming, out of position and flapping a little.
10 min: Villa try to respond to the shock of that farcical goal. Buendia runs at a slightly disorganised United back line, but over-elaborates in his efforts to release Watkins.
8 min: That’s quietened the home crowd considerably. An awful error, one for the ages. Martinez, consumed with embarrassment, claims Telles didn’t touch the ball at the free kick before Fernandes ran off with it, but the referee’s quite rightly not having any of it.
Updated at 5.44pm GMT
GOAL! Aston Villa 0-1 Manchester United (Fernandes 6)
Telles takes a feather-light touch, allowing Fernandes to shift the ball infield. He takes a couple of touches, tees himself up, and sends a shot towards the bottom left. It should be an easy gather for Martinez, but he lets the ball slip through his hands and between his legs. It rolls apologetically into the net, and that’s a huge howler by the Villa keeper. Shades of Massimo Taibi and Matt Le Tissier, all those years ago.
Updated at 5.43pm GMT
5 min: Another free kick for United, Telles barged to the floor by Sanson as he makes off down the left. Before it can be taken, the referee takes time out to deliver a rollocking to everyone in the box. A lot of pushing and shoving going on.
4 min: Telles swings a free kick in from the left and it’s only half hacked clear by Watkins. A slightly nervous start by Villa, who can’t get out of their half, or retain any possession.
3 min: This one - United’s 101st of the campaign so far - doesn’t beat the first man. United still haven’t scored from a corner kick this season yet.
2 min: Dalot strokes a long pass down the left wing where the presence of Elanga forces the first corner of the game. Fernandes takes. Digne’s first act in a Villa shirt is to head behind for another. Fernandes to take again.
United get the ball rolling ... but only after everyone takes the knee. Villa Park fills with appreciative applause. There’s no room for racism.
The teams are out. Villa wear their famous claret and blue, while United sport their ersatz early 90s light blue away strip. Philippe Coutinho has taken a bow, applauding the fans in all four corners of Villa Park. A rare old atmosphere in this famous old stadium, with the hosts looking for their first home victory in the Premier League over United since August 1995 . You can’t win anything with kids. We’ll be off in a minute.
Updated at 5.31pm GMT
Steven Gerrard speaks to Sky. “Philippe Coutinho is on the back of a Covid situation, he was only training at home. We need to build his match sharpness up. But he has trained with us for the last three days with no problems, he’s looking sharp, further on than we thought, so if the game needs him, I’d have no problem with putting him out there.”
Ralf Rangnick adds: “Cristiano Ronaldo still had problems with his hip. We decided not to train him yesterday. It doesn’t make sense to play him today. Hopefully he can play on Wednesday.”
Some pre-match reading.
The 3pm kick-offs have finished. Newcastle 1-1 Watford, Norwich 2-1 Everton, Wolves 3-1 Southampton. All of which means the Premier League now looks like this ...
... and so a Villa win tonight will whisk them up to 11th (tenth if they win by four goals or more) while United would move up to sixth should they take all three points.
Lucas Digne makes his Aston Villa debut this evening. Philippe Coutinho could eventually make his too, though he’ll have to come off the bench. John McGinn is suspended, so Morgan Sanson takes his place in midfield.
Manchester United make three changes to the side that put Villa out of the FA Cup on Monday evening. Luke Shaw and Scott McTominay are both suspended, so in come Alex Telles and Nemanja Matic. Marcus Rashford, out of sorts recently, has been given a rest, so Anthony Elanga takes his place in the attack. There’s still no Cristiano Ronaldo, but Harry Maguire is back from injury and takes a spot on the bench.
Aston Villa: Martinez, Cash, Konsa, Mings, Digne, Sanson, Luiz, Ramsey, Watkins, Ings, Buendia.
Subs: Targett, Steer, Young, Coutinho, Hause, Chukwuemeka, Archer, Iroegbunam, Kesler.
Manchester United: de Gea, Dalot, Lindelof, Varane, Telles, Fred, Matic, Greenwood, Fernandes, Elanga, Cavani.
Subs: Jones, Maguire, Mata, Lingard, Heaton, Sancho, Henderson, van de Beek.
Referee: David Coote (Nottinghamshire).
In which Aston Villa try to pay Manchester United back for their FA Cup defeat last Monday. Kick off is at 5.30pm. It’s on!