Aston Villa hosted Ole Gunnar Solsjkaer and his in-form Manchester United team at Villa Park last night. The game was always one of those where if Villa were to take anything it would be a bonus but when VAR awarded Man Utd a controversial penalty, their chances went from limited to almost impossible.
Villa doesn’t have the best of records against Man Utd so it was always going to be a difficult task but we had to give it a go. Mbwanna Samatta came into the starting line-up as he replaced Kenan Davis following the 2-0 defeat to Liverpool on Sunday.
Out the traps
Dean Smith’s men come out of the traps from the off and looked relatively dangerous going forward. Samatta was causing problems for the Man Utd backline and was highlighted when he robbed the ball from Nemanja Matic but the delivery into the box, that appeared to be causing the United defence problems, flew across the face of the goal.
Jack Grealish should have done better just moments later, just as he should have done in the defeat to Liverpool on Sunday. Ezri Konsa crossed the ball from the right, once again it missed all those in front of the goal, fell for Grealish who could only hit it high and wide.
A few minutes later it was the turn of Egyptian, Trezeguet. This time the provider was Anwar El Ghazi who crossed the ball but the Egyptian winger failed to make contact.
Following the water break, Trezeguet was at it again. He robbed Paul Pogba in the middle of the field before lining up a shot but was denied by the outside of the post.
Then came the game-changer. More VAR controversy involving Aston Villa. United began to pick up their game, both Konsa and Bruno Fernandes challenged for the same ball, with the Portuguese turning on the ball, his studs landing on the ankle of Konsa. Referee John Moss blew up straight away pointing to the spot.
Replays showed that Konsa didn’t make contact with Fernandes, it wasn’t in the box and in fact it a free-kick should have been awarded to the Villa defender. Many thought VAR would overturn the decision but it wasn’t to be, a penalty was awarded. Fernandes stepped up and slotted home.
The goal was a real blow for the home side as their belief and performance levels appeared to drop.
United take control
Man Utd doubled their lead just before half-time through the wonderkid of the moment, Mason Greenwood.
Not for the first time this season, Tyrone Mings lost the ball in possession and the away side broke at speed. Greenwood finished with a stunning shot which gave Pepe Reina, in the Villa goal, very little chance.
The Red Devils threatened to run riot in the second half as they very quickly scored their third of the night. Paul Pogba scored the third from 25-yards-out with a curler past the Villa keeper.
The substitutions seemed to upset the Man Utd’s rhythm as the game fizzled out.
Games running out for Villa
Games are fast running out for Villa in their fight against relegation. Smiths comments about being able to look at games that he believes Villa can now win concerned me and you can probably see why the players lost their earlier fight once that first goal was awarded.
If Crystal Palace are to score first this weekend then we will need a lot more fight if we are to have any hope, no matter how small the odds are, of surviving that we have seen in recent weeks.