Aston Villa kicked off the Unai Emery era in style with an almighty 3-1 Premier League victory over Manchester United on Sunday afternoon. The Villans put on a far better display as they ground out three points after gaining a two-goal advantage in the early stages; a first home win over United in 27 years.
Emery’s side got off to the dream start, taking the lead within just six minutes, as Leon Bailey fired low and hard into the bottom corner from a tight angle. Ollie Watkins had made a terrific run and turn at the centre circle before feeding Jacob Ramsey, who found Bailey. The Jamaican then sent the Villa faithful into raptures.
Just three and a half minutes later, things got even more glorious as Lucas Digne whipped in a pinpoint free-kick to make it 2-0 – his first-ever Villa goal. Ramsey, who drove forward with the ball, was brought down by Luke Shaw on the edge of the penalty area. Digne’s resultant effort curled over the wall and into the top corner - giving David De Gea no chance.
Villa maintained momentum after going two up, piling yet more pressure on United’s already-depleted defence. You’d never have known the same side had been embarrassed 4-0 last weekend; Emery must have made quite the impression in his first few days in charge.
Emiliano Martinez stood firm just after the half-hour mark as United put together some far better passages of play. Alejandro Garnacho nearly squeezed in an effort at the near post after some brilliant team play but his fellow Argentine got in the way. Cristiano Ronaldo then saw a close-range header saved a few moments later.
The Red Devils were handed a route back into the game just before the break as Ramsey failed to clear a cross and it fell to Shaw on the edge of the area. The England international then fired toward Martinez and it took a wicked deflection off Ramsey to go into the back of the net. An own goal.
The dawn of the second period was nearly as action-filled as that of the first, as Bailey - straight from kick-off - ran past three United players and stung the gloves of De Gea. United were then largely on the ascendency, setting out a desire to keep hold of the ball after an early scare.
It was to no avail for the visitors, though, as Villa grabbed a clinical third on the counter attack. Disappointment just before half time to delight after - Ramsey put right his wrong as he opened up his body and struck the ball into the top right-hand corner of the net. Watkins was the man to set Ramsey up, as he weighted his pass to perfection to find the young Villan.
Ten Hag turned to the bench just after the hour, bringing on Anthony Martial, Anthony Elanga and Tyrell Malacia for Garnacho, van de Beek and Shaw. United’s substitutes made an early impression with some chances created and a penalty shout.
Emery’s team worked very hard from then on with a high-intensity counter-press and it was ultra-effective in keeping United from forming any real clear-cut opportunities. The game ended 3-1, making for a terrific start to the new era. Villa move up to 14th in the Premier League table, on 15 points after 14 games played.