Manchester United have picked up their third straight Premier League win, this time beating Aston Villa 3-0 at Villa Park.
A tight contest early on, the Red Devils opened the scoring from the spot after Bruno Fernandes was judged to have been taken down in the area. It was an admittedly fortunate call for the side, but they wouldn’t have cared too much, as Fernandes easily converted the penalty.
Mason Greenwood would make it 2-0 moments before the end of the first half, slamming a shot into the top corner to continue his blistering form. Paul Pogba then got in on the scoring, placing a low shot into the side netting following a well worked corner.
The win meant United go into this weekend only one point behind 4th place Leicester City in the race for Champions League qualification, with the two sides set to face off on the last day of the season.
Story of the match
The first major chance of the contest fell to Jack Grealish. An excellent cross from Ezri Konsa flew towards the backpost and picked out the Villa captain. However, it was on his weaker left foot, so his volley attempt flew over the crossbar.
Villa came close once again about ten minutes later, as Trezeguet took the ball off Paul Pogba in the midfield before driving forward. He went for goal, but saw his curling effort hit off the post and out of play.
However, it would be United who took the lead, coming courtesy of yet another penalty. It was a fortunate call for the Red Devils, as Bruno Fernandes fell backwards into the defender, but the referee pointed to the spot regardless. The Portuguese midfielder made the most of it, though, calmly slotting home to break the deadlock.
Mason Greenwood, who has been in superb form since the restart, then forced a decent save from keeper Pepe Reina. The youngster got past a few defenders before taking a shot, but it wasn’t hit hard enough, so Reina had little issue pushing it aside.
United thought they had doubled the advantage at the end of the first half, as a chipped cross from Luke Shaw found an unmarked Fernandes in the area. However, his header from close range was off target.
They would make it two right before the break on the counter. Greenwood, who has been in immaculate form, got the ball on the edge of the area before unleashing a shot into the top corner, leaving Reina helpless.
Villa would have felt hard done by as they were the better team for most of the opening 45 minutes, but the Red Devils were the ones going into the second half up 2-0.
The away side could have had a third in the 48th minute, as Marcus Rashford picked out Aaron Wan-Bissaka at the back post, but the right back couldn’t get his diving header on target.
It didn’t take too long for United to get their third goal. Fernandes hit a corner to the top of the penalty area, where Pogba was waiting. Taking a few touches to settle himself, the Frenchman then placed a shot past a crowd of defenders into the bottom corner. The rout was on at this point, as Villa looked helpless, unable to recover from a brutal first half.
The Red Devils had a few more chances to run up the score before the day was done, but they mostly played it safe, keeping Villa at bay and keeping a clean sheet in the process. In the end, they were able to secure all three points, setting up a thrilling top four race for the rest of the season.
Greenwood is elite
It’s borderline unfair to have Mason Greenwood out on the field when he’s in this form.
The 18 year old has been absolutely electric ever since the restart, and has become one of United’s biggest threats going forward. He can pretty much do it all, able to dribble pass and shoot with either foot.
It’s his finishing ability that is truly scary, as Greenwood is unbelievably lethal, especially considering his age. He proved that once again tonight, blasting a shot into the top corner from outside the box, putting the game to bed before the half.
The Englishman has been a key part of the Red Devils’ winning streak, and it’s hard to put into words just how bright Greenwood’s future at Old Trafford truly is.
An ode to Pogba
Everyone knows how talented Paul Pogba is going forward. Simply magic on the ball, he’s had so many highlight reel moments that someone could make a video of them that lasts an hour.
However, it’s been his defensive ability that has been so crucial for United as of late. With Fernandes playing further forward, Pogba has been forced to drop deep alongside Nemanja Matic to cover the backline. It’s a role he knows well, to be fair, as he won the World Cup with France in 2018 playing a similar position.
He has sacrificed going forward to make sure he stays back, which has helped the Red Devils defense immensely. They’ve gotten more clean sheets as a result, and generally look much more solid.
Pogba has gone up when the chance arises as well, as he found space from a corner before confidently slotting home. It’s mostly been his work off the ball that has led to United’s success though, showcasing just why he’s one of the best midfielders on the planet.
Man of the match - Bruno Fernandes
Another game, another strong showing from Bruno Fernandes.
Getting on the scoresheet once again, it was his penalty conversion that gave the Red Devils a crucial lead midway through the first half. He then assisted Pogba’s goal later in the contest, adding yet another goal contribution to his Premier League tally, which is already up to 14.
He’s been a savior for United since arriving in January, and he might just be the man who ultimately leads them back to Champions League football.