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Aston Villa 2 Manchester United 2 - Report

Debutant Philippe Coutinho came off the bench to inspire a remarkable fightback from Villa against Manchester United.


              
Aston Villa's Philippe Coutinho applauds
Aston Villa's Philippe Coutinho applauds

The Brazil international, who this week joined on loan from Barcelona, made one and scored one as Steven Gerrard’s team came back to snatch an unlikely draw.

United looked to be cruising to victory thanks to two goals from Bruno Fernandes, the first from an Emi Martinez howler.

But Coutinho teed up Jacob Ramsey to pull one back before getting the equaliser himself with seven minutes remaining.

Analysis

At that point Villa had struck twice in five minutes and looked favourites to go on and grab their first home Premier League win over United since 1995.

In the end the third goal never arrived but home supporters went home feeling a lot happier with life than they had for much of the evening.

Across the 90 minutes Villa’s performance was frustrating. They gifted United two goals and the big talking point looked like being the reaction of Morgan Sanson, who booted a water bottle into the crowd after being substituted immediately after his mistake helped the visitors double their lead midway through the second half.

But there could be no questioning the home side’s spirit as they rallied, with Coutinho at the centre of the comeback.

The 29-year-old was only deemed fit enough for a place on the bench with Gerrard instead handing a full debut to the week’s other big signing, Lucas Digne, in place of Matt Targett at left-back.

United’s team news was more interesting. Just as on Monday there was no place for Cristiano Ronaldo, the Portugal international missing out with a hip flexor injury. With Marcus Rashford also absent with a dead leg and Luke Shaw and Scott McTominay both missing through suspension, the visitors line-up looked distinctly less foreboding.

And yet in practice United proved far sturdier opponents and the for opening half-an-hour Villa hardly a had a kick.

The early goal undoubtedly helped the visitors settle and though it was reward for a bright start, the manner of it was almost inexplicable.

Sanson fouled Alex Telles on the left and when the latter touched the ball off to Fernandes the shot proved too powerful for Martinez, who fumbled it underneath his body and into the net.

It was a stunning error from one of the best goalkeeper in the league though, to Martinez’s credit, he reacted well and prevented his team suffering further damage when he saved at point-blank range from Mason Greenwood.

The Argentina international also pushed away a Telles free-kick and denied Greenwood again as United dominated.

Finally, Villa began to find some rhythm. Watkins became the first home player to touch the ball in the visiting box on 32 minutes but sent his shot straight at David De Gea. The United keeper then showed sharp reactions to save Emi Buendia’s close range header, before keeping out a Digne effort with his legs.

Villa lost Ezri Konsa to injury at the break and his replacement, Kortney Hause, was still getting up to speed when Anthony Elanga raced into the box and drilled a shot which Martinez had to beat away.

The hosts were much improved though and went close themselves when Ramsey exchanged passes with Buendia and hit a low shot which De Gea saved diving low at his near post.

Villa’s next chance fell to Buendia but his effort, after Digne had collected a lovely pass from Hause and skipped past Dalot, was straight at the United keeper.

With the noise levels inside Villa Park rising, Digne hit the side-netting at the end of a sharp passing move.

But having finally put the visitors under some sustained pressure and with Coutinho about to come on, Villa again gifted their opponents a goal to make their task much harder.

They had already escaped once when Elanga shot wide after pouncing a reckless Cash pass across the face of his own goal.

But they were not so fortunate when, after Sanson underhit his pass, Elanga teed up Fernandes to drill a fine finish in off the bar.

Villa looked sunk at that point but battled their way back and cut the deficit as Ramsey netted for the first time in front of home supporters.

Mings started the move with a driving run forward before Carney Chukwuemeka, just on as a substitute, found Coutinho to tee up Ramsey, the academy product hitting his finish high into the top corner.

Within five minutes the favour was returned. Digne picked out Ramsey’s run down the left and he squared for Coutinho to finish over De Gea.

Key Moments

6 GOAL Bruno Fernandes puts United ahead as his shot is fumbled into the net by Emi Martinez.

67 GOAL Fernandes doubles United’s lead after a mistake by Morgan Sanson.

77 GOAL Villa get back into it as Jacob Ramsey finishes a fine team move.

82 GOAL Villa level as Coutinho turns home Ramsey’s cross.

Teams

Villa (4-3-3): Martinez, Cash, Konsa (Hause HT), Mings, Digne, Sanson (Coutinho 68), Luiz, Ramsey, Buendia, Ings (Chukwuemeka 77), Watkins Subs not used: Kesler, Targett, Young, Iroegbunam, Archer, Steer (gk).

Man Utd: De Gea, Dalot, Lindelof, Varane, Telles, Matic, Fred, Greenwood (Lingard 89), Fernandes (Van De Beek 89), Elanga (Sancho 78), Cavani Subs not used: Jones, Maguire, Mata, Henderson (gk), Heaton (gk).

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