Barclays Premier League
Aston Villa vs. Manchester United
Venue: Villa Park
Date: Friday, 14 August 2015
Kick-off: 19:45 BST
Manchester United made it two wins out of two in the Barclays Premier League with a 1-0 away win over Aston Villa.
Adnan Januzaj, in for Ashley Young as the only change from last Saturday’s victory over Spurs, scored the only goal of the game, just shy of the half hour mark.
The unbeaten run at Villa Park in the league will surpass the 20 year mark on Wednesday, as United got their first away win of the season at the first attempt, whereas last season it took until late November to achieve the feat.
The game took a while to get going, with a quarter of an hour gone before the first chance of any note.
Villa captain Micah Richards brought down Morgan Schneiderlin, and it was the latter who met Memphis Depay’s deep free-kick to the back post, but he couldn’t get a clean connection on the ball with his head.
Ashley Westwood’s attempted clearance rebounded off Michael Carrick, but goalkeeper Brad Guzan was able to put in a firm tackle on Memphis just inside the penalty area as the loose ball was there to be won.
Memphis saw a shot blocked before the hosts broke at the other end, only for Chris Smalling to cut out Idrissa Gueye’s through ball.
A one-two between Memphis and Wayne Rooney saw the former have a shot deflected wide, before Januzaj’s cross was just out of reach moments later, with the ball flicking off of Memphis’ head and out of play.
Thus came the goal, with Juan Mata showing his qualities after drifting infield, with his defence-splitting pass finding Januzaj, whose turn left Richards grounded, and his shot deflected off Ciaran Clark and found the back of the net via the post.
Westwood’s corner saw Richards head over after a tussle with Matteo Darmian, as United entered half-time with a narrow lead.
Villa showed their intent after the break, with Mata’s loose pass allowing Ayew to get a shot away, but his effort flew over as he was off-balance.
Jordan Amavi’s dangerous cross was unmet before he was fouled by Darmian, only for Westwood’s dangerous free-kick to go unmet also.
His corner didn’t go unmet though, but Gabby Agbonlahor’s header was held by Sergio Romero.
Schneiderlin did well to keep the ball in play as Amavi aimed to shield it behind for a goal-kick, but United’s number 28 flicked the ball to Darmian, who’s deflected cross went for a corner.
Luke Shaw was brought down after a promising run but Memphis blazed the free-kick over the bar.
Ayew was booked for diving before an exquisite pass from Mata set Memphis in on goal, but he curled the ball too far round Guzan, as it fell wide of the target.
Substitute Ander Herrera was booked for pulling back Gueye, before the former teed up Memphis, only for Guzan to hold his low shot down to his right.
Darmian was booked for a foul on the lively Amavi, as Gueye was cautioned for Villa, for a foul on another United sub, Bastian Schweinsteiger.
United saw the game out in a professional manner, with a second consecutive 1-0 victory the order of the day.
Attention turns now to Tuesday night, when the Champions League returns to Old Trafford.
The first leg of the play-off qualifier against Club Brugge awaits, with the side desperate to return to club football’s biggest competition.
A far from vintage performance once more, but three points, a clean sheet, and looking much tighter at the back will please Louis van Gaal.
The trip back up the reopened M6 will be a happy one for the team, as they leave Villa Park will maximum points.
Manchester United: Romero; Darmian, Smalling, Blind, Shaw; Carrick (Schweinsteiger 60), Schneiderlin; Mata, Januzaj (Herrera 60), Memphis (Young 82); Rooney.
Subs: Johnstone, Hernandez, Young, Herrera, Valencia, Schweinsteiger, McNair.
Manager: Louis van Gaal
Aston Villa: Guzan; Bacuna, Richards, Clark, Amavi; Gueye, Veretout (Sanchez 78), Westwood; Ayew, Agbonlahor, Sinclair (Gestede 59).
Subs: Bunn, Baker, Richardson, Hutton, Sanchez, Kozak, Gestede.
Manager: Tim Sherwood