Aston Villa 2, Manchester United 2
Philippe Coutinho scored late to rescue a point for Aston Villa after mistakes had threatened to hand all three to Manchester United.
Aston Villa pair Emi Martinez and Morgan Sanson had handed United 2-0 lead with 13 minutes to go as Bruno Fernandes capitalised on their errors with a brace.
But late goals by Jacob Ramsey and ex-Liverpool star Philippe Coutinho, on loan to Villa from Barcelona, stunned the Reds.
Coutinho hadn’t managed a goal or assist in any of his seven Premier League appearances against United while at Liverpool over 480 minutes – his last appearance in the Premier League was in December 2017 – but within 14 minutes of coming on he had grabbed an unlikely point for the home side with a late equaliser.
It was just the kind of fighting spirit that Villa boss Steven Gerrard has tried to install in his side but it left United frustrated following another poor performance which was rescued by another fine goalkeeping performance by David De Gea as the home side managed nine shots on target from 13 shots with 55% possession.
The draw meant that United ended the day in 6th place with 34 points – still 3 points behind West Ham in 4th place but also a massive 22 points behind league leaders Manchester City.
Cristiano Ronaldo and Marcus Rashford were absent from Manchester United’s match day squad with injury while Scott McTominay and Luke Shaw were suspended.
In their absence, United made three changes from the side that beat Villa in the FA Cup on Monday – Anthony Elanga, Nemanja Matic, and Alex Telles came in for Rashford, McTominay, and Shaw.Embed from Getty Images
United manager Ralf Rangnick was disappointed at what he felt was two dropped points after United had a 2-goal lead going into the last 13 minutes.
He said: “It’s difficult to find positives. I felt it was our best game since I came here, we dominated the game and could have scored 2 or 3 goals.
“But we had to keep it going after 2-0 up and defend as a team.
“The plan was the press them in the mid zone area and control the game, but when you are 2-0 up we have to defend it better.
“We gave away too many balls at times and in the last 15 minutes when the pressure was higher we were not as compact as before and conceded two goals.
“It feels like a defeat to be honest but the next game is on Wednesday and we are at home next Saturday.”
Rangnick also praised Anthony Elanga’s performance today but added that his team selection might be affected by the fitness and availability situation with his injured players, adding: “Elanga did well, he had two great opportunities to score and showed why I decided to start him today.
“I am not thinking about who is ahead of whom and we will have to wait and see who else is fit on Wednesday.”
He also pointed out the reason why United only had eight substitutes on the bench tonight was because Anthony Martial “didn’t want to be in the squad.”
Aston Villa mistakes gift Manchester United a big lead until Philippe Coutinho hits late equaliser
The Reds got off to a great start against Villa who handed United a gift after just six minutes of a first quarter battering.
Alex Telles and Bruno Fernandes combined for a disguised free kick that somehow went through the legs of Emi Martinez who was distracted by the onside Edinson Cavani in front of him.
Martinez fumbled the bobbling ball and dropped it over his own line after just six minutes in a calamitous start for Aston Villa.
Martinez redeemed himself a little by saving from Anthony Elanga and Mason Greenwood twice.
Ollie Watkins forced a smart save out of David De Gea after 32 minutes while Buendia’s header from a Villa corner was parried by the Spanish goalkeeper a shirt and Lucas Digne’s drive was blocked by the legs of De Gea.
Villa were dealt a second blow of the game with Ezri Konsa picked up an injury and was replaced by Kortney Hause at half time.
De Gea also saved after the break from Jacob Ramsey and Buendia as the Villans dominated from the restart.
Greenwood and Elanga failed to test Martinez as Villa’s intensity level finally started to drop and mistakes started to creep in.
Villa’s short passing finally let them down – Morgan Sanson gave the ball away to Fred who set up Fernandes for another shot from the edge of the area which beat Martinez after 67 minutes – his 7th goal of the season for the Reds.
Sanson immediately paid the price for his error and he was replaced by Villa’s star signing Philippe Coutinho who had been waiting to come on before the United hammer blow.
Matic’s attempted backpass at speed had to be cleared by De Gea as United still lived on their nerves.
Ramsey than pulled a goal back after Coutinho pressured the United defence in an error and the loose ball fell to the midfielder on the edge of the box with 13 minutes to go.
And Ramsey then returned the favour 5 minutes later when he unselfishly squared the ball for the ex-Liverpool man to tap the home from 5 yards out with Varane ball-watching after Buendia started the move down the Villa left flank.
The roof then came off Villa Park as the home side pushed for an unlikely winner with Coutinho’s shot saved by De Gea.
There were boos as Mason Greenwood and Bruno Fernandes were taken off with Jesse Lingard and Donny van de Beek coming on for the last minute of the game.
Even though he was on late, Van de Beek almost carved out a great chance to win the game in added time but it would have been an unlikely smash and grab for the Reds.
MATCH STATS – Aston Villa 2, Manchester United 2
Aston Villa: Martinez, Cash, Konsa (Hause 46), Mings, Digne, Sanson (Coutinho 68), Luiz, J Ramsey, Watkins, Ings (Chukwuemeka 76), Buendia
Aston Villa subs not used: Steer, Targett, Young, Hayden, Archer, Iroegbunam
Booked: Digne 27 (fioul on Diogo Dalot)
Goals: Ramsey 77; Coutinho 82
Man Utd: De Gea, Dalot, Lindelof, Varane, Telles, Fred, Matic, Greenwood (Lingard 89), Fernandes (van de Beek 89), Elanga (Sancho 73), Cavani
Man Utd subs not used: Henderson, Heaton, Jones, Maguire, Mata
Booked: Matic 30 (foul on Danny Ings); Fernandes 47 (foil on Morgan Sanson)
Goals: Fernandes 6, 67
Referee: David Coote