MANCHESTER UNITED WERE looking to return to winning ways at home having suffered back-to-back losses against Manchester City and Liverpool in recent weeks but could Aston Villa become the 10th team to leave Old Trafford with at least a point this season?
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Manchester United 4 – 1 Aston Villa
12.21 – Is it a bird, is it a plane carrying a protest banner? No, it’s our coverage of Manchester United and Aston Villa, today’s early kick-off in the Barclay’s Premier League.
First off, here’s the team news and David Moyes has named his 47th different starting XI in 47 games:
Manchester United starting XI: De Gea; Rafael, Jones, Vidic, Buttner; Young, Fellaini, Fletcher, Kagawa; Mata, Rooney.
Subs: Amos, Giggs, Chicharito, Carrick, Nani, Welbeck, Januzaj.
Aston Villa starting XI: Guzan, Bacuna, Vlaar, Clark, Bertrand, Westwood, Delph, Albrighton, Weimann, Benteke, Agbonlahor.
Subs: Steer, Sylla, Holt, Tonev, Bennett, Robinson, Lowton.
12.31 – Unbelievably, BT Sport is tracking the protest plane that is due to fly over Old Trafford, funded by a group of Manchester United fans that, frankly, have too much time and money on their hands.
12.34 – So quick question, would Manchester United fans prefer a strong end to the season or would the club be better off avoiding the Europa League altogether and just concentrating on the league next season?
12.41 – We’re just a couple of minutes from kick-off and the teams are coming out onto the field.
Update on plane watch:
12.45 – And we’re off. United will be hoping that they can keep the game scoreless for more than 45 seconds today.
12.48 – And here it is, the infamous flying banner.
Now, let that be the last time we talk about it.
12.50 – There are lots of empty seats around Old Trafford and they haven’t had much to cheer — or boo – about so far.
United seem to be playing Mata in his more natural 10 role but there has been little in the way of attack from either side so far.
12.53 – Michael Owen on BT Sport says there’s been a very laboured start to the game and he’s not wrong.
Rafael gives away a silly free-kick in a dangerous position but Ashley Westwood’s delivery doesn’t beat the first man and United easily clear.
12.55 – Down the other end, Rafael wins a free kick after a clumsy challenge from Agbonlahor.
Juan Mata’s set-piece is met by Wayne Rooney but Villa clear comfortably.
12.59 – GOAL – Ashley Westwood, 13mins
Rafael has been central to most of the action and this time he is really punished after he fouls Agbonlahor on the edge of the area.
Westwood curls his free-kick over the wall and past the outstretched David de Gea.
Rafael picked up a yellow card for the foul.
13.02 – Not for the first time in his Manchester United career, Rafael is proving a liability. The thoughts of him on a yellow card for 75 minutes must send a shiver down the spine of most United fans.
Over the other side, Alex Buttner has been booked for a rash challenge and Villa have another dangerous free.
Ciaran Clarke wins a free header but just can’t keep his effort on target.
13.04 – United have their first real chance as Wayne Rooney stretches to get on the end of Ashley Young’s cross but Brad Guzan gets down bravely to stop the England striker prodding home.
13.06 – GOAL – Wayne Rooney, 20mins
After a great run by Shinji Kagawa down the Manchester United left, his cross picks out a wide open Wayne Rooney and his free head finds the back of the net.
Ciaran Clarke won’t want to watch that again though.
13.13 – This has been a niggly little game and we probably could have seen more than just the two yellow cards on show so far.
From a free out on United’s left, the returning Vidic almost scores the home side’s second header but Ciaran Clarke made amends for his earlier mistake and got his own head in the way.
Somehow, a goal kick is awarded.
13.19 – David Moyes’ men haven’t really pressed on since the goal though they have had a couple of half-chances.
The latest saw Villa captain Ron Vlaar just get his head to Juan Mata’s near-perfect through ball to Kagawa and Guzan is left to tidy up.
13.22 – It’s an interesting theory:
13.23 – Aston Villa have a corner with eight minutes to the break but Ciaran Clarke completely misses the ball when it looked like he’d have a decent chance.
As with a lot of things in this game so far, the opportunity eventually fizzles out.
13.29 – GOAL – Wayne Rooney, 46mins
After Juan Mata is brought down in the box, Wayne Rooney steps up and scores from the spot.
It was and odd passage of play as Kagawa’s ball looked to have been aimed at Rooney but worked its way through to Mata.
Bacuna definitely brought down the Spaniard as you can see:
13.35 – HALF-TIME: And the half-time whistle goes. United may have started badly — and not played all that well in between — but they go into the break in the lead.
I’m off for a cup of tea. Anyone want one?
13.49 – David Moyes has seen enough of one-man wrecking ball Rafael and Michael Carrick comes on for the second half with Phil Jones slotting in at full back.
The second half is under way.
13.54 – Benteke misses Villa’s best chance since their goal, swinging wildly inside the six-yard box when some composure might have resulted in a goal.
Down the other end, Vlaar makes another important intervention to deny United.
13.57 – Another chance for Benteke after a brilliant ball in from Albrighton but the striker just can’t keep his header down.
United on the back foot in the opening stages of the second half.
13.57 – Harsh, probably fair:
14.01 – GOAL – Juan Mata, 58 mins
There can be only Juan. The Spaniard has his first goal for Manchester United.
Alex Buttner’s header in looked to have found an offside Fellaini but the assistant referee kept his flag down and Mata pounced.
14.11 – Vidic is very lucky not to have given away a penalty there.
He slipped as he tried to ease the ball out of play and dragged down Benteke.
It might have been soft but I’ve seen them given.
Substitution for United, Januzaj on for Kagawa.
14.13 – He’s only on the pitch a minute and Januzaj has his first shot on target.
Guzan saves easily enough but Paul Lambert will be concerned by how easily he skipped through the Villa defence.
The visitors make a change of their own with Tonev coming on for Agbonlahor.
14.18 – Wayne Rooney’s day is done. Chicharito comes on with 15 minutes to go.
14.22 – Albrighton is the latest player to leave the game, replaced by Matthew Lowton.
That’s a pity for Villa as the winger was probably their best player in his 78 minutes.
14.28 – It appears as if the visitors have given up the ghost here and the game is starting to resemble little more than a training session for both teams.
United will hope to survive the last five minutes without any injury scares ahead of the game with Bayern Munich.
14.34 – GOAL – Javier Hernadez, 90mins
That’s the icing on the cake for United as they get back to winning ways at Old Trafford.
Chicharito with the easiest of finishes after great work down the left-wing by Januzaj who has impressed since he came on.
14.36 – FULL-TIME: Peep, peep, peep.
It’s all over in Manchester as United make light work of Aston Villa in the end.
14.40 – So four goals will put something of a spring in the step of Manchester United ahead of the game with Bayern but there has to be worries over some of the defending.
If they fail to shore that up, Munich could run riot.
14.43 – However, lets end on a positive note. It was a good performance and thankfully what happened on the field overshadowed all that nonsense taking place above Old Trafford.
Anyway, that’s it from me. As always, thanks for joining us, you’re all brilliant. Especially you.
Don’t forget to check back later as we have Manchester City and Arsenal coming up later on as well as all the best action from the 3pm kick-offs.