Manchester United kick off 2021 with victory over Aston Villa

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The Red Devils are now level on points with Liverpool at the top.

Manchester United took on Aston Villa in the 2nd Premier League game of 2021 – following West Ham’s win over Everton earlier.

Both teams had plenty on the line going into the game. Aston Villa had the chance to move into the top 4 with a win while United could have gone top of the table with a similar result.

Manchester United came out on top in the end thanks to goals from Anthony Martial and Bruno Fernandes. The match finished 2-1, meaning United are now level on points with Liverpool on top of the table.

FIRST HALF

Manchester United started the game brightly, attacking with pace and intent.

Emi Martinez had his first real tester in the 10th minute. Anthony Martial struck from outside of the box but the Villa keeper denied the Frenchman with an agile save.

Aston Villa had a chance of their own just moments later. Matty Cash’s overlap allowed him space to cross and his ball into the box fell to John McGinn. The Scottish international struck low on the volley before David de Gea got a good hand on it to avert the danger.

After a period where both teams had their half chances, Anthony Martial finally made the breakthrough for Manchester United in the 39th minute. The goal came a typical Manchester United counter attack. Aaron Wan-Bissaka bombed down the right flank before delivering a cross into the box which was met by the head of Martial before going into the net. He did well to anticipate and react to the opportunity. Tyrone Mings was at fault for the goal, having failed to intercept the cross into Martial.

The first half ended 1-0 to Manchester United as a result of Anthony Martial’s goal. Aston Villa showed signs of promise but also faded out of the game for large periods. A better second half was needed for Dean Smith’s side to warrant a good result.

SECOND HALF

Aston Villa started the second half much better than they played for the majority of the first.

Their pressure nearly culminated in a goal in the 51st minute. Jack Grealish was involved heavily as he crossed into the box and onto Ollie Watkins head. David de Gea produced a superb save to hook Watkins’ shot over the bar and out for a corner.

Aston Villa continued to knock on the door and their efforts paid off in the 58th minute with a Bertrand Traore goal. Aaron Wan-Bissaka was largely to blame for the goal. His poor positioning gave Jack Grealish of all people acres of space to work. Grealish took advantage of Wan-Bissaka’s error and crossed low into the box which was met and finished by Bertrand Traore.

Aston Villa’s equaliser didn’t last long. Manchester United were awarded a penalty in the 61st after some good work by Paul Pogba. VAR were called into action to discuss the validity of the penalty and after some consultation, the penalty stood. Bruno Fernandes stepped up to the spot and he dispatched his effort low and hard into the corner.

Paul Pogba had a great chance to make it 3-1 in the 72nd minute. Luke Shaw crossed in low from the byline to Pogba who was in space, but he fired wide of the post.

Emi Martinez was on hand again in the 76th minute, this time he kept out in-form Bruno Fernandes. The Portuguese international shot from outside the box but Martinez managed to get a good hand to divert the ball behind.

Tyrone Mings had an excellent opportunity to atone for his mistake in the 83rd minute. Matty Cash delivered a fantastic free kick into the box from wide. Mings got his head on the ball after a battle with Harry Maguire but his shot went just wide.

Matty Cash had a good second half and he nearly ended the half with a goal. He struck well from outside the box but David de Gea was at hand to tip it behind.

Eric Bailly produced a brilliant challenge/block right at the death to keep out Keinan Davis.

The match finished 2-1 to Manchester United after Bailly’s heroic defending. The Red Devils are now level on points with Liverpool.

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