ASTON VILLA 0, MAN UNITED 1.
What perfect timing for Phil Jones to open his goalscoring account than with the matchwinner at Aston Villa in a hard fought Barclays Premier League match.
After scoring at the wrong end the previous week with an unlucky own goal against Benfica in the Champions League, it was all smiles for summer-signing Jones who was again operating in midfield as opposed to his favoured central-defensive role.
“I am delighted to have scored my first goal because I had been getting a bit of stick from the lads and backroom staff for the own goal,” explained Jones.
“I have to admit getting an own goal against Benfica in the Champions League wasn’t the best start to my scoring career.”
Sir Alex Ferguson described it as a “solid” performance which was an accurate assessment as they ground out their fourth 1-0 league victory since the derby debacle. Their other game was a 1-1 draw against Newcastle.
“We were wasteful in the second half when we had chances to seal victory, but it was a solid performance as to win away in the Barclays Premier League is never easy,” explained the Reds’ manager.
It may not be pretty to watch, but United’s functional approach and return to basics is ensuring they remain Manchester City’s main challengers as they stay five points adrift.
Since the 6-1 defeat to City it has been a challenging period for United and the latest game was no exception following the loss of Javier Hernandez after only 12 minutes through torn angle ligaments.
It was a freak injury as he was hurt turning for the ball with no opponent in close proximity.
“We are having a torrid time with injuries at the moment but we’re keeping at it,” Ferguson continued.
Jones sealed victory in the 20th minute with an excellent strike which followed a glorious move involving Wayne Rooney, Patrice Evra and Nani who supplied the pinpoint cross from the left for him to execute with clinical precision.
United had chances to win by a wider margin as Nani was denied by keeper Shay Given, Antonio Valencia’s drive was inches over, Rooney fired just over while near the end Danny Welbeck had strayed offside before scoring.
United, with Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic reunited, were solid at the back as Anders Lindegaard had little to do other than making an athletic tip over to keep out a header from James Collins.