The visitors looked to be heading for three points after taking a 2-0 lead but the little Brazilian was on hand to inspire a superb Villa comeback.
United were rewarded for their bright start but it was a howler from Martinez that gifted them the lead.
Fernandes let fly from 25-yards and the Argentine number one let what looked a relatively straight forward shot slip through his legs and over the line.
The visitors continued to dominate and nearly made it two - Martinez making up for his earlier error by denying Mason Greenwood what looked a certain goal from point blank range.
It took 32 minutes for Villa to have a shot on goal and as a tame as Ollie Watkins’ effort was, it seemed to finally wake the claret & blue up.
David De Gea was forced into a couple of good saves towards the back end of the half. Emi Buendia had a header from a corner well stopped before debutant Digne struck a first time volley well but it was straight at the Spaniard.
Villa were forced into a change at the break with Kortney Hause replacing the injured Ezri Konsa and the substitute was nearly punished for not being switched on within a minute of the restart. Anthony Elanga nipped past him and fired just wide of Martinez’ goal.
But scary opening minute aside, it was the home side that were much improved after what can only be assumed was a half-time rocket up the backside.
Danny Ings and Watkins both went close but were left frustrated by De Gea.
United always looked dangerous on the break and it’s on the break in which they doubled their lead. Fernandes grabbing his second of the game with a fine finish.
The match looked to be getting away from Villa before Gerrard did as he promised pre-match and unleashed the little Brazilian.
Coutinho replaced Morgan Sanson with 20 minutes to go and within five minutes had an assist to his name.
The 29-year-old was in the right place at the right time to put the ball on a plate for Jacob Ramsey to pull one back.
And Ramsey turned provider four minutes later when he played the ball across goal for Coutinho to slam home from six yards.
Villa pushed for the winner but it wasn’t to be.
A deafening Villa Park serenaded the players off the field after the full-time whistle and whilst it wasn’t a win on paper, it sure felt like one at 19:30.
Emiliano Martinez - 6
His howler set the tone for a dismal first-half for Villa. Couldn’t do anything about the second but he’ll not want to see the first again.
Matty Cash - 5
Had a rough time of it recently. Maybe I’m just expecting too much from him.
Ezri Konsa - 6
Was the better of the two centre-halves before being forced off through injury. Fingers crossed it isn’t too serious.
Tyrone Mings - 5
Slowed the game down numerous times with his sideways and backwards passing and at 0-2 it really frustrated the home faithful.
Lucas Digne - 7
Showed a lot of glimpses of what he could do. A solid debut.
Jacob Ramsey - 8
Funnily enough was having one of his poorer days until the goal. Then just went and dropped one on a plate for Coutinho too. Vital in the turnaround in the end.
Morgan Sanson - 6.5
Thought he had a really solid game considering his lack of minutes but kicking the water bottles towards the bench went replaced won’t go down well with Gerrard.
Douglas Luiz - 6
Quite from Luiz’s standards. Didn’t have the same affect he had at Old Trafford.
Emiliano Buendia - 6.5
Looked the most likely to create in the first-half and had some real touches of class. Faded in the second-half when he dropped deeper to accommodate Coutinho.
Danny Ings - 6
Had a couple of half chances but Villa didn’t get the ball into him enough.
Ollie Watkins - 5
A real poor game from Watkins. In hindsight I’d have replaced him instead of Ings but the decision paid off in the end.
Kortney Hause - 5
He nearly cost Villa a goal within a minute of the restart and didn’t look nearly as comfortable at the back as Konsa did. Did have a vital block with the last action of the game though when he denied Donny Van de Beek’s goal-bound strike.
Philippe Coutinho - 9*
If Carlsberg did debuts... They’d have probably had Villa score a third but still! What a debut.
An assist and a goal. Welcome back to the Premier League, Coutinho.
Carney Chukwuemeka - 7
Only had 15 minutes but was pivotal in the first goal.
Aston Villa (4-3-3): Martinez; Cash, Mings, Konsa (45’ Hause), Targett; Sanson (68’ Coutinho), Luiz, Ramsey; Buendia, Ings (75’ Chukwuemeka), Watkins
Subs not used: Steer (GK), Iroegbunam, Kesler, Targett, Young, Archer
Manchester United (4-2-3-1): De Gea; Dalot, Lindelof Varane, Telles; Fred, Matic; Elanga (78’ Sancho), Fernandes (89’ Lingard), Greenwood (89’ Van de Beek); Cavani
Subs not used: Heaton (GK), Henderson (GK), Jones, Maguire, Mata
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