United boss Ralf Rangnick was missing some key players for the match against Aston Villa at Villa park yesterday. Cristiano Ronaldo was still dealing with a muscle injury to his hip and Luke Shaw and Scott McTominay were both suspended for the match. Harry Maguire was back in the side but started on the bench, so Victor Lindelöf started in his place. Rangnick used a 4-2-3-1, using Raphael Varane and Lindelöf as central backs. Alex Telles at left back and Diogo Dalot at right back, then Nemanja Matic and Fred in front of the back line. Anthony Elanga, Captain, Bruno Fernandes and Mason Greenwood played just behind Edinson Cavani who was the lone striker. David De Gea continued his player of the year performances in goal.
United started the match with a high press and a surprising amount of energy that really threw Aston Villa off for the first quarter of an hour. Everyone in a white shirt looked up for it, creating a lot of chances down the left side of Villa. Elanga and Telles had great games and made this difficult for Villa’s Matty Cash early in the match. United would take the lead very early in the match, from a free kick in Villa’s half.
In the 6th minute United earned a free kick deep inside Aston Villa’s own half. Telles and Fernandes stood over the free kick and looked like they were planning something. Once the whistle blew to take the kick, Telles runs over the ball and gently rolls it to the Portuguese playmaker. Fernandes then hits a dipping shot at Emiliano Martinez who fumbles the ball and lets it drop through his legs and over the line. United kept up their energetic start through most of the first half. In the 19th minute Greenwood would have his close range volley blocked by the onrushing Martinez. Aston Villa didn’t really get any attack going until the end of the half. Ollie Watkins saw his shot caught safely in the hands of De Gea in the 30th minute. The Spaniard would go on to make multiple saves in the match. One of his better saves came from a Emi Buendia header after heading the ball from close range. United ended the half looking like they were starting to lose a bit of steam but were still up by one after 45 minutes.
Villa came out after the break with clear intent and really started to take it to United. The Red Devils still had some gas left in the tank and found themselves up 2-0 in the 67th minute. Still pressing Villa high in their own half, Morgan Sanson would see his under hit back pass picked up by Fred who neatly passed to Fernandes who smashed the ball onto the underside of the crossbar and into the back of the net. United tried to control the rest of the match but looked very tired and started giving the ball away in their own half. Steven Gerrard would make a change shortly after the goal taking Sanson off and bringing on new boy Philip Coutinho, who is on loan from Barcelona. He would be the spark for Villa getting back into the match.
With just 15 minutes left to play and lots of United players looking very leggy, Villa would really turn up the heat. Coutinho, after some nice build up with Mings, would get the ball to Jacob Ramsey. Ramsey struck the ball past De Gea to make it 2-1. All the momentum started to turn towards Villa and all United could do was hang on and defend for the win. The tying goal would come late in the 82 minute with the goal scorer Ramsey crossing a first time ball for Coutinho to score to make it 2-2. United were able to hold on the rest of the match, keeping it at 2-2 for at least a point.