FIRST HALF – BRUNO GIVES UNITED THE LEAD
Early on, Marcel Sabitzer managed to dispossess Jacob Ramsey and threaded the ball through to Rashford. The Reds’ no.10 managed to break away from Tyrone Mings and Ezri Konsa in the centre of the pitch and got one against one with Martinez, but his shot was wide of the near post, before the linesman raised the flag for offside.
Rashford looked to break through again, just minutes later. Tyrell Malacia and Fernandes linked up on the left of the penalty area, before the Portuguese midfielder sent a wonderful pass into the path of Rashford, who tried to smash it on his weaker left foot, but Martinez was quick to react with a low save.
The Reds did not let up with the attacking football in the opening 15 minutes. Sabitzer struck a powerful volley over the crossbar, after receiving an over-the-top pass from Rashford. Soon afterwards, Fernandes attempted to lift the ball over the on-rushing Martinez, but the chip crept past the far post.
The Villans finally came into the game in the 19th minute. Ramsey’s pass managed to find Emi Buendia in the United penalty area. The Argentine only needed to take one touch before threading the ball between the legs of Luke Shaw, looking for Ollie Watkins at the back post, but Diogo Dalot was able to thwart the in-form striker. Villa’s attack would not cease there, as Spanish left-back Alex Moreno blasted the ball straight at David De Gea and out for a corner. VAR did take a look at a penalty shout by Watkins, after Dalot’s timely challenge.
Erik ten Hag’s men responded with an incredible effort. Jadon Sancho, using skill and tricky, got the better of former United defender Ashley Young, before picking out Casemiro inside the box. Taking a touch, the Brazilian midfielder curled the ball towards the Villa goal, but the strike cannoned off the crossbar and fell to Fernandes, who was in an offside position.
As the half came to a close, United broke the deadlock. Streaking through, Rashford tried a low shot past Martinez, but the World Cup-winning goalkeeper dived low to make the save. However, he failed to push the ball past the post. Busting a gut to get to the rebound, Fernandes sprinted to slot the ball past the keeper and Mings on the line to notch his 11th goal of the season, and his seventh overall against Villa.