Aston Villa player ratings vs Man Utd: One 3/10 and four 5s but five 7s in Boxing Day defeat

Player ratings and match report from Manchester United vs Aston Villa in the Premier League.

Aston Villa took an early 2-0 lead but were unable to hold on as an electrified Manchester United fought back to record a famous 3-2 win at Old Trafford on Boxing Day. The Villans netted two rare goals from set pieces but were pegged back – and then beaten – by a determined second-half United display. Unai Emery was visibily infuriated on the touchline as his side failed to hold their shape for much of the encounter, enabling the Red Devils to get in behind on countless occasions. Alejandro Garnacho netted twice and Rasmus Hojlund finally got his maiden Premier League goal to turn the game on its head and sink Villa to their first defeat since November 5.

It all started brilliantly for the visitors as John McGinn, the man of the moment, sent the travelling support into raptures in the 21st minute. The skipper’s clever 30-yard free-kick stunned United as it made it through a crowd of bodies and into the far corner via a bounce, with Leon Bailey playing a key role. The Jamaican stood behind goalkeeper Andre Onana to confuse and ran away at the vital moment so to not interfere with play – just as McGinn struck his delivery. Ollie Watkins made an effective run, too, looking as if he was going to connect with the ball but removing his foot at the last second. Emery looked delighted on the touchline as what seemed to be a training ground routine worked excellently.

It wasn’t long until the Villans had a second and it was from another delightful set piece as McGinn’s inswinging corner was converted superbly. Clement Lenglet was at the far post to nod the ball dangerously across the area and Leander Dendoncker, on a rare start, expertly flicked it into the net to become a Villa goalscorer for the very first time. A chorus of boos echoed around much of Old Trafford but the away end erupted as Emery’s men secured a two-goal cushion.

Emiliano Martinez was forced to make three saves in the first half but only caused much of an issue – a powerful Marcus Rashford drive to the near post. Bruno Fernandes had an excellent opportunity to reduce the deficit as he was found through on goal by Christian Eriksen but the United captain took a poor touch and scuffed his shot well wide of the post.

Villa went down the tunnel as confident 2-0 leaders but United came out ruthlessly in the second 45, kickstarting it with a disallowed goal for Garnacho, who was caught offside. That moment should’ve acted as a wake-up call for Villa but it failed to be as the Red Devils were in the ascendency for a long period and took advantage, scoring twice to level the scoring at 2-2 before making it 3-2 in the 82nd minute.

Garnacho responded brilliantly to his chalked-off strike by netting two that counted, the first a tap-in from a low Rashford cross and secondly a deflected strike off Diego Carlos to equalise. Hojlund then had a moment to remember forever as he netted his first-ever English top-flight goal to nearly lift the roof off Old Trafford. McGinn failed to clear away a Fernandes corner and an incredibly relieved Hojlund was there to strike instinctively on the volley for 3-2.

Emery’s men pushed for an equaliser in added time but were unable to carve out any clear-cut opportunities, much to the dismay of the Villa faithful in the away end of Old Trafford. Here are our player ratings.

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