Aston Villa player ratings gallery vs Man Utd: Two score 4/10 but three earn 7/10s in 1-0 defeat

Player ratings from Manchester United 1-0 Aston Villa, as two Villans score 4/10 but three earn 7s in Premier League defeat at Old Trafford.

Aston Villa’s remarkable 10-game unbeaten streak came to a painful end at the hands of Manchester United on Sunday afternoon, as the hosts ran out narrow 1-0 victors at Old Trafford courtesy of a 38th-minute Bruno Fernandes strike. Unai Emery’s men got back into the game in the second period after being dominated in the first but couldn’t find a breakthrough to boost their European hopes. The Villans will now be nervously looking over their shoulders at the likes of Liverpool and Brighton & Hove Albion, who are both agonisingly close behind with Premier League fixtures in hand.

United, spurred on by a hazy green smoke rising up in rebellion against the Glazers, established dominance in possession in the opening quarter of an hour and crafted a couple of advances with long balls in behind. The first fell to Marcus Rashford as he timed his run to perfection but Emi Martinez got down low to deny the striker at the near post. Marcel Sabitzer then took the ball into his stride but struck it high and over the crossbar. Emery, getting drenched in the Old Trafford rain, was left perplexed by his side’s lack of output as Villa struggled to capture any sort of grip on the game. The away support were in full swing but those on the field were hardly able to get out of their own half.

The early United storm did pass eventually, though, and the away side were able to create a brilliant opportunity on the counter-attack. Emi Buendia found some space in the box and played it across the floor between Victor Lindelof’s legs to find a teammate at the far post, but Ollie Watkins slipped on the surface at the vital moment and Alex Moreno’s follow-up effort was blocked on the line. The hosts were next to have a big opportunity when Casemiro, who had been effective on the half-turn throughout the whole first half, dodged a couple of Villa bodies to strike at goal. But the Brazilian’s powerful shot cannoned back off the crossbar to relieve Martinez and the Villans’ backline.

Erik ten Hag’s side finally found their breakthrough with about half-a-dozen minutes to go until half time as Casemiro cut out Martinez’s goal kick with a brilliant header to find Rashford beyond the Villans’ back line. The striker was denied a goal himself by an outstretching Martinez glove, but the Argentine goalkeeper could only parry the ball into the path of Fernandes, who was waiting at the far post to convert. It wasn’t made easy for the midfielder as Tyrone Mings slid in to deflect the shot, but it just about made it through to hit the back of the net in front of thousands of exasperated away supporters.

The visitors started the second period looking like a different team as possession switched feet and the opportunities began to open up. Although under pressure from a high United press, the likes of Jacob Ramsey, Emi Buendia and Watkins were able to find space for the odd pop shot. The Old Trafford crowd became increasingly frustrated by a lack of control, while the away end grew in confidence at a comeback. Emery turned to the bench to bring on Bertrand Traore and Calum Chambers in the search for an equaliser but United sat in and absorbed the pressure. Villa’s best opportunities came from set pieces as Luiz put in the odd ball of note, one of which found Tyrone Mings’ head but his attempt was blocked away on the line by his own teammate, Ezri Konsa.

Not the result the visitors would have hoped for by any means, nor the performance despite an improvement after the break. Plenty of football has been played over the last couple of months, though, and so a defeat was to be expected eventually. It will be interesting to see how Emery analyses that performance and we will have his post-match reaction here, at Birmingham World. In the meantime, here are our Villa player ratings from the defeat with a couple of 4/10s and some well-earned 7s.

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