There were other little things that impressed, too. Mainoo making it through so much of the match – before being substituted in added time – on a yellow card. Casemiro is much older, and endlessly more experienced, but he managed to do the same, tempering his natural inclination to storm in and win the ball back at every opportunity. Instead, the Brazilian was more considered, more Maldini than Montero. But it was equally effective.
It’s Villa’s third consecutive home defeat, but that did not bother United’s away end at all, nor will it perturb the players and the manager, who were understandably delighted after the final whistle.
These three points give United a greater sniff at a top-four (or top-five) place and, yes, that’s really important, with just 14 games to go. But the nature of the final 20 minutes or so should give fans and staff just as much pleasure.