Manchester United strengthened their grip on a top-four place by ending Aston Villa’s 10-match unbeaten run with a 1-0 win at Old Trafford.
Bruno Fernandes’ shot deflected over Emiliano Martinez late in the first half after the goalkeeper had pushed away Marcus Rashford’s attempt. Erik ten Hag’s team then had to overcome a late scare when Victor Lindelof cleared off the line from Douglas Luiz.
But the win extends United’s advantage over Unai Emery’s in-form Villa to nine points and though one or both of Liverpool and Tottenham could close the gap later in the day, they are now well placed to secure Champions League qualification for next season.
Man Utd: De Gea (6), Dalot (7), Lindelof (8), Shaw (7), Malacia (5), Casemiro (7), Eriksen (6), Sabitzer (6), Fernandes (7), Rashford (7), Sancho (5).
Subs: Fred (6), Antony (6), Maguire (n/a), Martial (n/a).
Aston Villa: Aston Villa: Martinez (6), A.Young (6), Konsa (6), Mings (6), Moreno (6), Dendoncker (6), Luiz (7), McGinn (6), Ramsey (7), Buendia (6), Watkins (6).
Subs: Chambers (6), Traore (6), Duran (6), Digne (6).
Player of the match: Victor Lindelof.
How Man Utd ended Villa’s run
Aston Villa arrived full of confidence but the movement from Manchester United in attack was a constant problem for their defence, the high line in real danger of being breached from the outset. It was Rashford versus the offside trap all afternoon.
He beat it to latch onto a Fernandes pass but saw his shot saved by Martinez. The goalkeeper did the same for the breakthrough goal but might have done better that time – pushing the ball into the path of Fernandes, whose shot deflected over him.
Erik ten Hag made two changes to the Manchester United team that drew with Tottenham. Tyrell Malacia came in for Aaron Wan-Bissaka so Diogo Dalot switched to right-back. Marcel Sabitzer replaced Antony which led to Bruno Fernandes playing wider on the right.
There were no surprises in Unai Emery’s team selection as he stuck with the same side that defeated Fulham so there was a fourth start in a row for Leander Dendoncker. Matty Cash, Philippe Coutinho, Leon Bailey and Boubacar Kamara are expected to be available soon.
It was no more than Ten Hag’s team deserved. They posed the greater threat throughout the first half, the recalled Marcel Sabitzer fizzing a shot over the bar and Casemiro having an effort of his own come back off the Aston Villa crossbar with Martinez beaten.
It was more even after the interval with Emery introducing Bertrand Traore in an attacking move. Luiz almost found the equaliser late in the game only for his shot to be headed away off the line by the excellent Lindelof, but United held on for a vital win.
FPL stats – Man Utd 1-0 Aston Villa
|Bonus Points||Dalot (3), Fernandes (3), Shaw (1)|
Manchester United head to top-four rivals Brighton on Thursday, live on Sky Sports from 7.30pm; kick-off 8pm. Ten Hag’s side then face West Ham on Sunday; kick-off 7pm.
Aston Villa’s next game is a trip to Wolves on Saturday; kick-off 3pm.
May 4: Brighton (A) – Premier League, kick-off 8pm, live on Sky Sports
May 7: West Ham (A) – Premier League, kick-off 7pm
May 13: Wolves (H) – Premier League, kick-off 3pm
May 20: Bournemouth (A) – Premier League, kick-off 3pm
May 25: Chelsea (H) – Premier League, kick-off 8pm, live on Sky Sports
May 28: Fulham (H) – Premier League, kick-off 4.30pm
May 6: Wolves (A) – Premier League, kick-off 3pm
May 13: Tottenham (H) – Premier League, kick-off 3pm
May 20: Liverpool (A) – Premier League, kick-off 3pm
May 28: Brighton (H) – Premier League, kick-off 4.30pm