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Dublin: 14°C Thursday 13 May 2021


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EVENING ALL, WELCOME to our live coverage of the Paul McGrath Derby, as Manchester United rock up to a biosecure Villa Park. 

This is a game with stakes at both ends of the table – a win for United will take them to within a point of fourth-placed Leicester City, while Aston Villa are four points from safety and desperately flinging about for buoyancy at the bottom of the league. 

United have arguably been the form team of Project Restart, so can they continue that electric form tonight? 

Or can Villa upset the odds? 

Kick off is at 8.15pm, and get in touch with us below the line or by email, 

Team news follows next! 

Team News 

Aston Villa

One change for Villa – out goes Kienan Davies for Mbwana Samatta.

Manchester United 

United, meanwhile, are unchanged. 


There were two 6pm kick-offs today, with the Spurs game still trudging lifelessly along amid 12 minutes of stoppage time. 

Bournemouth 0-0 Tottenham (Latest score) 

Everton 1-1 Southampton (FT)

It’s finished goalless between Bournemouth and Spurs. 

Let’s agree never to speak about that game again. 

“Consistency is good, but we’ve also had five days since the last game so there’s no reason to freshen the legs. Performances have been good so I just want to keep that going”, Solskjaer tells Sky about his decision to name the same side for a fourth-straight game. 

“The opposition has helped them…but they are obviously in a good place” says Roy Keane of United, heaping praise on their new-look midfield. 

United are first out on to the pitch at Villa Park, wearing their gold away shirt. 


The players take a knee, and now we’re underway! 


Nice move by United as the ball is popped between Pogba, Wan-Bissaka and Greenwood, but his low cross is whacked clear by Hause.


Jon Moss is the referee tonight, and he’s just waved away a very optimistic penalty appeal from Greenwood. 


Douglas Luiz clips a vertical ball into the United box for Trezeguet, and Lindelof sweeps across to head the ball clear on the edge of his six-yard box, and Villa have a corner. 


McGinn’s corner is comfortably cleared by United. 


Matic is robbed in his own by Samatta, and Fernandes deals with the issue by body-checking El Ghazi, who picked up the loose ball. 

Villa have a free-kick, around 30 yards from goal…


Douglas Luiz takes, but blasts it into United’s wall. Villa have started brightly, mind. 


United concede another free-kick, wide on the right this time. 

Grealish takes it, and whips it low for Samtta, but Rashford does well to cut the ball out before it’s swiped at by the Villa striker. 


Pogba whips a low but fairly harmless cross into the box that Mings allows pass through him, but he’s bailed out by Konsa.


Neil Taylor whips in a good cross from the left wing that Shaw does well to scuttle across and head away. 

Konsa then tries his luck from he opposite wing, and Luiz’s header is blocked behind for another corner by Wan-Bissaka. 


Grealish’s corner is easily punched clear by De Gea. 


Konsa stands up another good cross to the back post, and Grealish slices it over the cross-bar first time! 

He probably had enough time to take a touch… 


Wan-Bissaka is not dealing particularly well with this aerial bombardment. Konsa whips is another cross from the right, Wan-Bissaka misses it but so do does Trezeguet! 

Villa the better side so far. 


Fernandes wastes a United attacking chance by overcooking a ball into the box, and it rolls harmlessly over the end line. 

And with that, we head for a drinks break. 


Patrice Evra tells us that this game has been “okay.” 

So far, it’s very much been what Stringer Bell might call a forty-degree game. 


Villa clip the post! 

Well, that’s warmed things up. Pogba dawdles on the ball in midfield and is robbed by Trezeguet, who gallops forward and then curls a shot from the edge of the box off the foot of the post. 


PENALTY United! 

Bruno Fernandes stips the ball and does a Zidane-style roulette just inside the area, and is upended mid-move by Konsa! 


GOAL! Villa 0-1 United (Fernandes penalty) 

And Fernandes slams the ball to the bottom-left corner, with Pepe Reina throwing himself the wrong way. 

United have offered virtually nothing so far and Villa had the better side..but that doesn’t count for a whole lot now. 


The penalty decision was subject to a quick VAR review, and the more we see it, the less and less it looks like the right decision. 

Rather than Konsa coming through Fernandes, it looks like Fernandes jumped into Konsa and falls over. Dean Smith is certainly annoyed. 


We’ve had a delay as McGinn needed treatment, but he’s back up and running again. 

Meanwhile, a shout-out to commenter Mark Sheehan, who wrote before kick-off, “What’s the betting that United will get a soft penalty?”

I hope you made the bet, Mark. 


Martial rolls a shot goalward that’s easily collected by Reina. 


Greenwood drops off, turns, drives at the Villa defence and then forces Reina into a good save. 

That penalty decision has knocked the wind from Villa. 


Rashford jinks into the box and – at full pace – goes down pretty easily under contact with Luiz. 

This time, Moss waves it away. 


McGinn sizes up a shot from distance…and it’s blocked by Lindelof. 


Wan-Bissaka dives in on Samatta, fouls him, and is booked by Moss. 

Here follows another free-kick for Villa, this one will be swung into the box…


McGinn took it, and it sailed right through the United defence to the back post, where it was tamely deflected wide by Konsa. 


Long period of possession for United ends with Luiz desperately hacking the ball out of play. They can’t get the ball now. 


Fernandes misses a sitter! 

It should be 2-0. United, having passed the ball slowly among themselves for a while, drop the throttle down the left, with Shaw standing up a gorgeous cross for Fernandes from the endline. 

Fernandes, however, heads the ball over from point-blank range. 


Four added minutes at the end of the first half. 


Matic is booked for following through on TheLeague’sMostFouledPlayer Jack Grealish. 


Villa’s delivery from that free-kick is decent, but Villa inexplicably leave nobody at the back post to attack it. 

They are desperately short on quality. 


GOAL! Villa 0-2 United (Greenwood) 

Blimey, what a hit by Greenwood! 

United counter when Mings is robbed on the halfway line, and Greenwood gallops down the right wing. He cuts inside, squares the ball to Martial on the edge of the box. 

Then he takes it back from him, drops a shoulder on the edge of the box, and rifles a shot past Reina! 


HT: Aston Villa 0-2 Manchester United 

And that’s the last act of the first-half. Villa were the better side for the opening quarter, but the penalty decision went against them and they’ve been discouraged from there. 

Villa trudge off with a grievance, but United have a lead they don’t look like losing. 

Back in a few. 


We’re back underway! 


Samatta takes a tumble in the penalty area, and Moss is unmoved. Maguire put his arm across him…but it would have been very harsh. 


What a miss by Wan-Bissaka! 

Rashford chips the ball to the back post, and Wan-Bissaka arrives but somehow heads wide from three yards out. 


Villa are just sitting off United now, and thus United are very comfortable. 

Now Douglas Luiz passes the ball out for a corner, although Reina catches it comfortably. 


Konsa gets booked for pulling back Rashford. 


Better from Villa. Grealish dribbles from deep, pops it left to Trezeguet, who passes it back to McGinn, who sees a shot fly straight at De Gea. 

Which, after 54 minutes, is their first shot on target. 


United have a goal ruled out for offside! 

Rashford cuts in from the left and unleashes a shot that hits Pogba and goes into the net. 

Pogba, however, was right in front of Reina and well offside, and the goal is ruled out. 


GOAL! Villa 0-3 United (Pogba) 

This one counts. United cut the corner along the ground and to Pogba at the edge of the box, who is given approximately nine days to pick up the ball, shuffle to his right, and bend the ball into the bottom corner. 

Pepe Reina – who may have been unsighted – hardly moved. 


Villa make a triple swap – Conor Hourihane is on along with Nakamba and Keinan Davis. 

McGinn, El-Ghazi and Samatta make way. 


Martial rattles the bar! 

He’s slipped through by Fernandes and sees his left-footed shot bounce back off the crossbar. 

This, you feel, might be about to get ugly for Villa, who have looked a beaten docket since the opening goal. 


Grealish cuts in from the left and tries to curl the ball into the far corner, but his radar is off and the ball skids wide. 


United make a double change – Brandon Williams and Scott McTominay are on for Wan-Bissaka and Matic, both of whom had been booked. 


We take another drinks break.

It’s difficult to overstate just how Done with today Villa are. 

They’ve had a fork stuck in them since the penalty. 


“I don’t think they have any hope any more”, says Patrice Evra of Villa. I think he’s referring to this game, but it may be a broader point…


Farewell Bruno Fernandes! He’s subbed for Fred. 


Grealish passes the ball right out of play. 

United are at strolling pace, and thus it’s difficult to say anything about this game other than to discuss just how rubbish Villa are. (Very.)

Palace, Everton, Arsenal and West Ham are their final games. Can they beat any of them? 


Shaw and Rashford link up so well down the left, and Shaw’s cross from the endline is blocked behind for a corner. 

Solskajer is shaking out his bench – Dan James and Odion Ighalo are coming on. 


Ighalo and James enter the fray, Martial – who looks displeased – and Greenwood make way. 


The pace of this game is roughly about that of an All-Priests Over 75 5-a-side clash. 


Marvelous Nakamba – that’s his first name, not an adjective – fouls James on the edge of the box, and gets booked. 

Good position for United, this…


..Rashford screws the free-kick over the bar. 


Better from Villa! They break down the right, Luiz pulls the ball back into the box for Hourihane, whose half-volley is blocked by Williams! 

Corner Villa! 


Heavens above. The corner is floated easily into De Gea’s arms. Dreadful from Grealish, and Dean Smith is caught with his arms out, lips moving with some variation of, ‘What the hell was that!?’ 


A change for Villa – Luiz is gone, replaced by Indiana Vassilev. 


Grealish is fouled by Fred – he is booked after the fact – but the Villa player plays on and whacks a cross into the side netting. 


Shaw sees a goal-bound shot blocked behind by Hause. 


Three more minutes of this to endure for Villa…and the rest of us. 


Reina denies Rashford, who was sent through one-on-one by Pogba. 


FT: Aston Villa 0-3 Manchester United

And that’s it. United were not particularly excellent, but they didn’t need to be against an opponent of limited quality and porcelain mental strength. 

Villa started well but collapsed after United’s fairly soft penalty. 

While they couldn’t do much about that decision, they could have done something about their reaction. 

The time is ticking for Villa in the Premier League, but United are looking above them to the Champions League. 

Thanks for following us, bye! 

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Gavin Cooney


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