Barclays Premier League
Manchester United vs. Aston Villa
Venue: Old Trafford
Date: Saturday, 16 April 2016
Kick-off: 15:00 BST
Manchester United followed up their impressive 2-1 FA Cup victory in midweek against West Ham United by defeating Aston Villa 1-0 at Old Trafford in the Premier League.
Man-of-the-moment Marcus Rashford scored another well-taken goal, and it was the only thing to separate the sides as a late Villa rally almost rattled Louis van Gaal’s side.
This result also condemns the Villains to relegation, for the first time since 1987.
Whipping in a free-kick from the right, Memphis nearly assisted Marcos Rojo whose header fell just over the bar.
Antonio Valencia’s forward pass found Juan Mata who slipped in Wayne Rooney, with the skipper’s pull back cut out with Rashford lurking just behind.
It was Villa’s captain, Joleon Lescott, who nearly turned the ball into the back of his own net, with Rashford’s weighted pass allowing Mata to collect, but the Spaniard’s wayward attempt sliced away for a throw-in on the far side.
Former United player Kieran Richardson fired over, with a neat move by United ending with Mata’s cross being cut out.
Then came the goal with Rooney’s diagonal free-kick on the halfway finding Valencia, with the Ecuadorian’s low cross swept home by Rashford’s first time finish.
Rooney saw a shot held as half-time arrived, with Mata’s through ball seeing Rashford just miss the target early after the interval.
Memphis curled over as a short corner routine saw Mata’s effort saved behind by Brad Guzan, as a powerful Memphis free-kick eluded the crossbar in a later attempt.
Despite staring relegation in the face, a valiant Villa response saw substitute Rudy Gestede almost make an immediate impact, striking the post from one corner, with the following corner leading to David De Gea grasping Ciaran Clark’s header.
Gestede then headed just over from Alan Hutton’s cross; with second half substitute Anthony Martial’s through ball in stoppage time finding Memphis, only for the winger to be denied by Guzan, who turned the left-footed effort onto the post.
Full-time at the Theatre of Dreams, bringing an end to Aston Villa’s 24-year stay in the Premier League, along with it their 28-year status as part of England’s top tier on a sorry day for the West Midlands club.
As for United, they keep alive their top four prospects, with Rashford continuing his fine start to life at the club.
Up next sees the visit of Crystal Palace on Wednesday night in the league, with an 8pm kick-off commencing proceedings between the two FA Cup semi-finalists.
Manchester United: De Gea; Valencia, Smalling, Blind, Rojo; Schneiderlin, Fellaini; Mata (Fosu-Mensah 89), Rooney (Lingard 67), Memphis; Rashford (Martial 76).
Subs: Romero, Darmian, Fosu-Mensah, McNair, Young, Lingard, Martial.
Manager: Louis van Gaal
Aston Villa: Guzan; Hutton, Lescott, Clark, Cissokho; Bacuna, Westwood, Gueye, Richardson (Gestede 82), Sinclair, Ayew.
Subs: Bunn, Richards, Sanchez, Gil, Lyden, Gestede, Grealish.
Caretaker Manager: Eric Black