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Manchester United vs Aston Villa. Premier League.

Old TraffordAttendance73,592.

Manchester United 1

  • B Fernandes (39th minute)

Aston Villa 0

    Man Utd 1-0 Aston Villa: Bruno Fernandes' first-half goal wins it as Erik ten Hag's side strengthen hold on top four

    Report and free match highlights as Bruno Fernandes scored the decisive goal that gave Manchester United a 1-0 win over Aston Villa at Old Trafford; the result ends Villa's 10-game unbeaten run and extends the gap between the teams to nine points

    Bruno Fernandes is congratulated by team-mate Jadon Sancho
    Image: Bruno Fernandes is congratulated by team-mate Jadon Sancho

    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.

    Player ratings

    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.

    Bruno Fernandes opens the scoring for Manchester United against Aston Villa
    Image: Fernandes opens the scoring for Manchester United against Aston Villa

    Team news

    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.

    Also See:

    FPL stats - Man Utd 1-0 Aston Villa

    Goals: Fernandes
    Assists: Rashford
    Bonus Points: Dalot (3), Fernandes (3), Shaw (1)

    Player of the match: Victor Lindelof

    Lindelof started only one Premier League game between early January and the middle of April and the fact that he has since been pressed into regular action, starting each of Manchester United's last five games, was seen as a cause for concern.

    But the Sweden international has stepped up when required. He produced the game's outstanding performance in the 1-0 win over Aston Villa, a worthy player of the match. The highlight was his goal-saving header on the line to deny Luiz.

    It was more than just that header though. There were a number of them. His slight touch on the ball was enough to prevent Ollie Watkins heading in from close range even before that. In stoppage time, his decisive header cleared one final Villa free-kick. It was a fitting end.

    Luke Shaw is a composed presence alongside Lindelof in defence, slotting into the Lisandro Martinez role, but the converted left-back needs someone next to him who can dominate. Lindelof took on that responsibility. In doing so, he has proved a few people wrong.

    Ten Hag: Criticism of Bruno 'crazy'

    "Today, we played two halves, an impressive game," said Ten Hag afterwards. "Big credit to the team." In particular, he was pleased with the success that United had in behind Villa's high line. "It was definitely one of our ideas for this game," he added.

    "The lads did great with that organisation, attacking-wise. It could have been better. It can always be better. It was not always perfect, we had to score more, we know that, but finally, it was a success."

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    Erik Ten Hag complimented his Manchester United team for their composure

    It was Fernandes who scored the decisive goal, celebrating in front of the Aston Villa supporters who had been deriding him with their chants. It has been the perfect response to the recent criticism of the Portuguese. "He is so tough," said the United boss.

    "A couple of weeks ago there were questions about his captaincy, which was crazy because he is such a big leader. He leads by example, gives so much energy to the team, so much desire and determination. If you want to win games and trophies, you need such players."

    Asked about the protests from Manchester United supporters urging the Glazer family to sell the club, Ten Hag said: "We felt really that the fans were behind us. We have to focus to be successful because that is what the fans expect and can expect. I'm sure when we get performances like we do all season, and the fans are behind us, there is a lot of energy and a strong bond between the fans and the players."

    Emery disappointed: 'We did not play good'

    Speaking in the press conference after the game, Emery acknowledged that Manchester United were worthy winners.

    "Today, a little bit disappointed. A little. United deserved to win but at 1-0 you can, in 90 minutes, get in the box and score one goal. But we have to reduce the distance from them to us, to take more opportunities to win here. But I am happy in our process.

    "In the first half today, we did not play good, we did not feel good. In the second half, we improved but it was not enough. In the end, after we analyse this match, we can take more information but I think we can do better."

    Villa are still in the European places but their advantage over Brighton is only two points and the Seagulls have three games in hand. On the other hand, there is still a chance Villa can finish above Liverpool or Tottenham - they play all three in their final three games.

    "Firstly, we have to win our matches, we have to win points. Of course, there are other teams, Liverpool, Tottenham, Brighton and Brentford. We will have the possibility to win matches, but we are only going to think about the next match against Wolves.

    "Brighton have [played] three matches less than us. It is not normal, the circumstances, but it is like that. We are going to play the last match against Brighton. If we get to this match with the possibility of playing in Europe, that would be fantastic.

    "It is difficult if you go for top 10. It is really difficult if you go for the European places because you have to win, win and win. They are tough matches we are going to face but we are ready to do it and excited by the opportunity."

    What's next?

    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.

    Live Premier League

    Aston Villa's next game is a trip to Wolves on Saturday; kick-off 3pm.

    Man Utd's remaining fixtures

    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

    June 3: Man Utd (N) - FA Cup final, kick-off 3pm

    Aston Villa's remaining fixtures

    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

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