It was not pretty, but Manchester United survive Aston Villa scare to progress into the fourth round of the FA Cup, edging Steven Gerrard’s side by a solitary goal.
While the performance preferred the visitors for a win, luck favoured Manchester United as they successfully managed to avoid everything the Villains threw at them. This fixture was crucial for both sides as they headed into the night with the hope of brushing away the blushes of their previous defeats in the Premier League.
Aston Villa will be dejected with the way the game went but they have the perfect stage to avenge the loss when they face the same opposition as Villa Park will be hosts to Manchester United in the Premier League on 15th January. While the visitors will be hoping to use the cup with for momentum, the hosts will be focusing on getting their revenge.
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A momentary lapse from the visitors was taken advantage of by Manchester United early in the game. Just eight minutes after the match began, Fred delivered a brilliant cross into the centre of the box which Scott McTominay nodded past Emiliano Martinez. It would have been expected United would then dictate the flow of the game but their continued inconsistency meant they spent the remainder of the game on the back foot.
Aston Villa played exceptional football and the match was evenly poised throughout the first half apart from the goal. From the start of the second half the visitors dominated the game and United were put on the back foot. In the 50th minute they thought they had scored an equaliser only to be denied by a controversial VAR intervention. Villa had scored another lovely team goal but it was ruled to be offside.
United were now relying on counter-attacks to soften Villa’s dominance but that did not work out efficiently with Marcus Rashford struggling to make any impact on the game. Mason Greenwood on the other side was not lethal with the chances that came his way and it was another disjointed Manchester United attacking performance. United were able to get some control late in the game and successfully held onto their lead and will now face Middlesbrough in the fourth round of the FA Cup in early February.
Steven Gerrard Not Happy With VAR
When it comes to VAR, who will be happy if it is consistently inconsistent? While VAR has improved immensely from last year, the decisions still fail to be perfect. VAR intervened to deny Villa their equaliser. Although the decision turned out to be right, the time it took to reach the decision sparked unrest.
There were many things that turned the decision. VAR looked for a possible offside as Danny Ings nudged the ball past David De Gea. As they could not come to a firm decision, the on-field referee Michael Oliver was in charge of looking into the matter. His intervention saw the goal being disallowed because of Jacob Ramsey’s block on Edinson Cavani in the build-up. The whole process took three-and-a-half minutes which really affected the flow of the game.
Steven Gerrard was definitely not happy and he expressed it while speaking to BBC Sport. He said;
“How long have you got? The officials took three and a half minutes to settle that one. They have looked at two or three things in it. When VAR is there and they make a decision you have to accept it. There is nothing you can do to change it. The easy way out is to blame luck and the officials, we won’t do that.
“It is quite unique to play a team in the space of five or six days. The players have an opportunity to flip the mood, flip the feeling. I am sure they are frustrated. They played quite well and dominated large parts but with no rewards for the performance so they have an opportunity at Villa Park to straighten that out.”
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