Aston Villa 0-3 Man Utd: Ruthless Red Devils boost UCL hopes
Aston Villa 0-3 Manchester United: Ruthless Red Devils boost Champions League hopes as Bruno Fernandes, Mason Greenwood, and Paul Pogba were all on target.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer saw no reason to change his line-up for the fourth game in a row having won their last three games by three goals.
Whether it was the lack of rotation or Villa’s defensive shape, United was sluggish in the early stages and struggled to find the rhythm in their passing that had made them such a pleasure to watch recently.
The first real chance of the game arrived for the hosts and it was Jack Grealish – heavily linked with a summer transfer to Old Trafford – who squandered a great chance, volleying over from Ezri Konsa‘s deep cross.
If that wasn’t enough of a warning for the Red Devils, Trezeguet robbed Paul Pogba of possession high up the pitch only to sidefoot his effort against the outside of the post.
Within 90 seconds, United had won a penalty after Bruno Fernandes went down inside the box under a challenge from Ezri Konsa. VAR had a swift review and agreed with referee Jon Moss that it warranted a spot-kick, but further investigation suggested Fernandes had actually fouled Konsa. Still, the penalty stood and Fernandes confidently slotted home.
That goal appeared to lift United out of their slump and Mason Greenwood, in spectacular form, nearly added another to his growing collection of wonder strikes but Pepe Reina pushed his effort wide.
The 18-year-old didn’t need a second invitation, however, after a sublime counter-attack from United. Anthony Martial fed in the teenager and he raced forward, exchanging a one-two with the French striker before lashing a right-footed strike past Reina.
Villa had every right to feel aggrieved but their defensive work screamed of a team down the bottom and it got worse after the break when Paul Pogba curled home a third from Fernandes’ corner.
Martial came close to adding a fourth minute later as Villa threatened to self-destruct but he crashed his effort against the crossbar.
With no danger of a comeback as the final half an hour descended into training match mode, Solskjaer was able to rest his key men ahead of their final four fixtures. And with Leicester now only a point ahead, the Champions League is within touching distance for the Premier League‘s in-form team.