Custom Search

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Aston Villa Vs. Manchester United Match Result Report

Ten-man United outplayed Aston Villa for much of Wednesday’s game at Villa Park, but Sir Alex’s men, shorn of Nani’s attacking impetus for 60 minutes after the winger was sent off for a studs-up challenge, struggled to assert their dominance and had to settle for a point.

But the 1-1 draw – achieved courtesy of a James Collins own goal after Carlos Cuellar had put the home side in front – takes the Reds to within a point of Chelsea after the Blues lost 2-1 at Goodison Park courtesy of a Louis Saha double.

After that result at Everton, the Reds' draw at Villa may look like an opportunity lost: after all, a win would have sent United top of the league. But to come away from Villa Park with a point having played an hour with 10 men is no mean feat.

On a cold Birmingham night, the boss sent out a strong side to take on an Aston Villa team that had not lost in any competition since 2009. There was still no Nemanja Vidic (injured) or Rio Ferdinand (suspended) at the back, but in Wes Brown and Jonny Evans the manager has a second-choice centre-back pairing that would walk into most other top-flight starting XIs.

In midfield, Darren Fletcher, Michael Carrick and Paul Scholes started together for the third time in four games, while Ryan Giggs and Nani provided the width. The Portuguese winger was involved early on and his 25-yard free-kick drew a smart save from Villa goalkeeper Brad Friedel – how many times have you heard those words over the years? – after just eight minutes. Giggs saw an effort from the edge of the box deflected over the bar shortly afterwards before Villa took the lead with their first effort on target on 19 minutes.

Stewart Downing’s right-wing cross flashed across the area to the back post, where Rafael half cleared. The ball dropped to Spanish defender Carlos Cuellar, whose looping, 16-yard header floated over Edwin van der Sar and into the far corner.

United, who had not lost at Villa Park in the league since 1995, took just four minutes to restore parity. Again it was thanks to the generosity of the Reds’ opponents. Against Portsmouth last Saturday, Sir Alex’s men benefitted from two own goals – this time there was just the one, Ryan Giggs’ volleyed cross turned into his own net by former West Ham defender James Collins.

Nani had done well in the build-up, picking out Giggs beyond the far post, but it was his last meaningful contribution. He was sent off on 29 minutes by referee Peter Walton for a tackle that was admittedly reckless – the winger lunged in on Petrov with his studs showing – but arguably not one that constituted “serious foul play”.

Although robbed of one of United’s most potent attacking forces, the Reds enjoyed a brief spell of pressure and only another good stop from Friedel kept the score at 1-1. At the other end, Villa struggled to press home their numerical advantage; van der Sar hardly had a touch for the rest of the half.

Paul Scholes was sacrificed at the break for Antonio Valencia, as United reverted to four in midfield. It was an unexpected move from the boss – certainly, not many other managers would have made such an attacking change with their team reduced to 10 men. But Valencia brought youth and fresh legs to the table… and on 53 minutes he almost sent the Reds ahead when Giggs crossed early from the left. Arriving at the back post, the Ecuadorian took one touch before blasting the ball just over the bar.

The home side, meanwhile, looked devoid of ideas in the final third. After Cuellar’s goal, it took until the 58th minute for van der Sar to be called into action again. The Dutchman saved well down to his left after James Milner linked well with Gabriel Agbonlahor. Ten-man United were doing much more than merely hang on: Valencia found space on the right before firing his cross straight at Friedel, Rooney blazed wide with his left foot from a tight angle and then both players combined to almost slice a path through the Villa defence with just over 20 minutes remaining.

By then Martin O’Neill had introduced John Carew and Steve Sidwell and one of Sidwell’s first contributions was to clatter into Ryan Giggs. The Welshman injured his right wrist in the collision and was replaced by Dimitar Berbatov on 75 minutes. Rooney, who took on Giggs’ wing role and the captaincy duties, forced Friedel into another top stop when he wriggled free of his marker and fired towards the top corner. It was the last time United truly threatened the Villa goal.

At the other end, Villa fans saw a half chance go begging in injury time when Richard Dunne almost connected with a wide free-kick. But a Villa winner would have been harsh on United – indeed, the home team barely deserved a point after failing miserably to capitalise on Nani’s sending off.

Aston Villa Vs. Manchester United Highlights Video Clips

Aston Villa [1 - 1] Manchester United
19' [1 - 0] C. Cuellar
23' [1 - 1] J. Collins (o.g.)