Manchester United moved level on points with Liverpool at the top of the Premier League after a thrilling 2-1 win over Aston Villa at Old Trafford, secured with Bruno Fernandes’ penalty.
The game exploded with intensity from both sides from the off and it was United who got the advantage close to half time.
But the second half was even better, with two quick-fire goals – including Fernandes’ spot-kick – eventually securing Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men a crucial three points. Indeed, the Red Devils still have a game in hand over their arch-rivals in pole position.
United showed immediate attacking intent when Fernandes and Paul Pogba got in down the Villa left.
But after Emiliano Martinez made saves to deny a Fernandes curler and a Harry Maguire header, it was Villa’s turn to attack.
They had struggled to string passes together but upon doing so, Matty Cash got past Pogba and delivered a deep cross into John McGinn, whose volley forced David de Gea into action.
Indeed, the visitors then had a spell of constant pressure, with crosses from the left and right being defended.
But it was United who took the lead through Martial’s header. Aaron Wan-Bissaka, who spoke in the programme notes about improving his attacking influence, latched onto a neat Marcus Rashford flick.
From there, he drove forward and from his cross, Martial got in between the Villa defenders and headed home.
The 40th-minute strike ensured that both sides made a blistering start to the second half, with a number of chances in the first 10 minutes.
Rashford beat two players on the edge of the area before his snapshot was collected by Martinez. For Villa, Ollie Watkins headed back across goal and forced a fantastic clawing save from De Gea.
And as the game livened up, two goals in the space of three minutes came for either side.
Quickfire double at Old Trafford
Bertrand Traore smashed home after Jack Grealish‘s cross squirmed its way through to the forward. Pogba was then fouled by Douglas Luiz in the penalty area and Fernandes tucked his spot-kick into the left corner.
But the second half continued to get better. Watkins’ header just wide was sandwiched in between powerful shots from Martial and Fernandes forced Martinez into spectacular action.
Pogba and Rashford, meanwhile, fired wide and just over, respectively.
But as the game then entered its final ten minutes, Villa kept pushing. From a wide free kick, Tyrone Mings got the better of Maguire but headed wide.
However, United saw the game out to send another signal of intent about their potential title credentials this season.