Story of the game
Jack Grealish opened the scoring with a wonder strike that left David De Gea motionless in the United goal to hand Villa an early, slender advantage. Aston Villa's skipper was once more integral to hiss sides impressive display.
His fourth strike of the season was however cancelled out by Marcus Rashford on the cusp of half time, as he headed home Andreas Pereira's cross. The England forward had a stroke of good fortune as the post and Tom Heaton's shoulder helped the ball over the line.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer rallied his men at the break as his side took a deserved second-half lead. Pereira's midfielder partner - Fred - was this time the architect, swinging in a cross that eventually found Victor Lindelof's head after Villa striker Wesley flicked the ball on at the near post.
In a swift response to the Swede's goal - Tyrone Mings - his opposing centre half restored parity three minutes after conceding.
As Matt Targett recycled the ball back into De Gea's box, Mings was left unmarked to slam home his second goal for the club.
Tom Heaton saved the away side twice in the final ten minutes, so often precarious time in the game for Villa to see out a point in the past. Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur and recently Liverpool have all found late goals against Dean Smith's men.
A point at Old Trafford see's Villa rise to 15th place ahead of a visit to Stamford Bridge on Wednesday night.
Heaton could yet force an England starting spot
Despite Gareth Southgate's clear preference to start Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford throughout EURO 2020 qualifying, Heaton may still have something to say about that.
The former Burnley 'keeper was again assured and comfortable as Villa came under siege from a potent United frontline late on.
Having been outplayed for the best part of an hour by a Championship promoted midfield, United fans will want a busy January window. Granted Scott McTominay and Paul Pogba were both absent, Mata was uncreative and elusive in the first period.
Grealish can add something to the England squad
Overlooked too often, Southgate must seriously consider a squad with Jack Grealish involved come the summer.
The ability to glide with the ball is a quality not many footballers have, and since Grealish has added goals on a consistent basis this year, he could well be an important member of the three lions team.
Man of the Match
So often Grealish has been the talisman for a Villa side buoyant after his return from injury four weeks ago. From completed passes to fouls won, Grealish topped the match stats as he nails down he continues his superb Championship form.