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Man Utd comeback keeps City waiting on title

Bruno Fernandes has scored 27 goals for Manchester United in all competitions this season, the most by a Premier League midfielder in a season since Frank Lampard for Chelsea in 2009-10

Manchester United virtually guaranteed a Premier League top-four finish and ensured rivals Manchester City must wait to be crowned champions as they came from behind to beat Aston Villa at Villa Park.

Having sealed their place in the Europa League final despite a 3-2 second-leg defeat by Roma on Thursday, second-half goals from Bruno Fernandes, Mason Greenwood and substitute Edinson Cavani ensured Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side require a single point from their remaining four games to secure a Champions League place.

A win for Villa would have sealed the title for leaders City – beaten 2-1 by Chelsea on Saturday – and Bertrand Traore’s emphatic finish into the top corner midway through the first half threatened to do just that.

Emiliano Martinez was equal to attempts from Greenwood and Marcus Rashford as United struggled to respond initially, while Dean Henderson kept out Ollie Watkins’ strike to deny Villa a second before half-time.

United levelled shortly after the restart when Fernandes calmly slotted in a penalty after Douglas Luiz needlessly fouled Paul Pogba, and Greenwood completed a four-minute turnaround when his low strike found the bottom corner.

A VAR check for handball against Greenwood was dismissed after Luiz headed the ball onto the arm of the United forward and the visitors successfully resisted late Villa pressure despite the loss of captain Harry Maguire to injury before Cavani confirmed victory in the closing stages.

In a frantic finale, Villa forward Watkins also received a red card for a second booking for simulation when under pressure from goalkeeper Henderson.

United are 10 points behind champions-elect City but will have the chance to move within four points as they face Leicester and Liverpool before the leaders next play.

United fight back – again

With an exhausting short-term schedule to navigate, Solskjaer made four changes from United’s midweek trip to Rome for his side’s second fixture in a run of four in eight days – a situation created after last weekend’s league meeting with Liverpool was postponed due to fan protests.

Henderson, Marcus Rashford, Scott McTominay and Victor Lindelof started at Villa Park, and while Lindelof should have offered greater resistance for Traore’s opener, there was little Henderson could do to keep out his fine strike.

It was the 10th time this season United had conceded the opening goal in an away Premier League game – indeed Solskjaer’s side have gone 1-0 down on more occasions (14) than they have gone ahead (13) in the competition this season – but impressively they remain unbeaten when doing so away from home after this latest fightback.

With poacher Cavani benched after scoring twice on Thursday, United initially struggled to test Martinez despite encouraging build-up play.

But they were rewarded for a much-improved second-half display, with Fernandes’ spot-kick setting the tone for a side totally unfazed by falling behind.

Greenwood made his latest claim to be included in Gareth Southgate’s European Championship plans with his fifth goal in five Premier League games, though Maguire’s early departure following a collision with Anwar El Ghazi will be a concern for both the England boss and Solskjaer.

But Cavani’s accurate header from Rashford’s cross ultimately capped a positive week for United, in which they reached a first final of the Solskjaer era and co-chairman Joel Glazer announced plans for his first meaningful discussions with fans since his family bought the club in 2005.

More to follow.

Line-ups

Aston Villa

Formation 4-2-3-1

  • 26Martínez
  • 2Cash
  • 4Konsa
  • 5Mings
  • 18Targett
  • 7McGinnBooked at 79mins
  • 6Douglas LuizSubstituted forRamseyat 65′minutes
  • 15Traoré
  • 20BarkleySubstituted forDavisat 77′minutes
  • 21El GhaziSubstituted forWesleyat 77′minutes
  • 11WatkinsBooked at 89mins

Substitutes

  • 1Heaton
  • 9Wesley
  • 19Nakamba
  • 27El Mohamady
  • 30Hause
  • 39Davis
  • 41Ramsey
  • 52Philogene-Bidace
  • 60Chukwuemeka

Man Utd

Formation 4-2-3-1

  • 26Henderson
  • 29Wan-Bissaka
  • 2Lindelöf
  • 5MaguireBooked at 67minsSubstituted forBaillyat 78′minutes
  • 23Shaw
  • 39McTominay
  • 17Fred
  • 11GreenwoodSubstituted forCavaniat 65′minutes
  • 18Bruno FernandesSubstituted forMaticat 86′minutes
  • 6Pogba
  • 10Rashford

Substitutes

  • 1de Gea
  • 3Bailly
  • 7Cavani
  • 8Mata
  • 27Telles
  • 31Matic
  • 33Williams
  • 34van de Beek
  • 38Tuanzebe

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Aston Villa

  1. Squad number26Player nameMartínez

  2. Squad number2Player nameCash

  3. Squad number4Player nameKonsa

  4. Squad number5Player nameMings

  5. Squad number18Player nameTargett

  6. Squad number7Player nameMcGinn

  7. Squad number6Player nameDouglas Luiz

  8. Squad number15Player nameTraoré

  9. Squad number20Player nameBarkley

  10. Squad number21Player nameEl Ghazi

  11. Squad number11Player nameWatkins

  1. Squad number9Player nameWesley

  2. Squad number39Player nameDavis

  3. Squad number41Player nameRamsey

Manchester United

  1. Man Utd comeback keeps City waiting on titleSquad number3Player nameBailly
  2. Man Utd comeback keeps City waiting on titleSquad number7Player nameCavani
  3. Man Utd comeback keeps City waiting on titleSquad number31Player nameMatic


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