English Premier League

Manchester United 3-2 Aston Villa

Manchester United 3-2 Aston Villa. Rasmus Hojlund scored his first Premier League goal as Manchester United fought back from two goals down to record a sensational victory in a thrilling Boxing Day encounter with Aston Villa at Old Trafford.

In United’s first game since Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s 25% purchase of the club, and with future director and current Ineos head of sport Sir Dave Brailsford in the directors’ box, Erik ten Hag’s side produced one of those ‘back-from-the-dead’ endings for which they are so famed.

After John McGinn and Leander Dendoncker had given Villa a deserved half-time advantage, United rallied after the interval and refused to let their heads drop even after Alejandro Garnacho had a goal disallowed by VAR for a marginal offside decision.

It was the 19-year-old Argentine who led the fightback, scoring twice in a game for the first time in his career to turn the game on its head.

Villa did their best to stem the tidal wave of home attacks.

But, just as Midlands rivals Nottingham Forest discovered here in August, United retain some of the old doggedness from the Sir Alex Ferguson days.

And, for the home fans at least, there could be no more fitting scorer than Hojlund, who reacted quickest and rammed the ball home after Bruno Fernandes’ corner had struck McGinn and bounced free inside a packed penalty area.

The relief for Hojlund and his team-mates was clear to see, with goalkeeper Andre Onana racing the full length of the pitch to join in the celebrations as Ten Hag bounced in delight, his fists clenched in evident celebration.

Brailsford made his name with the theory of ‘marginal gains’ which brought him such success on the cycling front.

Small events also make big differences in football. With the game at 2-2 and Old Trafford in a frenzy, Villa launched a counter.

McGinn collected possession and took aim inside the penalty area. The shot was goalbound but veteran central defender Jonny Evans – who would not even be playing without the huge run of injuries that has decimated Ten Hag’s squad and cost him the services of international duo Luke Shaw and Sofyan Amrabat from the squad beaten at West Ham at the weekend – stuck out his left leg and turned the ball away.

It allowed the hosts to maximise their profit from Garnacho’s double, securing a win that leaves them just three points behind Manchester City, albeit the new world champions have two games in hand.

In a team that has found it hard to score goals, Garnacho picked exactly the right time to locate his shooting boots.

The youngster’s pace and movement has been a problem for many defences this term. Tonight, he also had an end product.

The first was a relative tap-in as Bruno Fernandes and Marcus Rashford combined, just as they had done for his disallowed goal, to set Garnacho up.

The second required more involvement, as Garnacho initially fed Fernandes, whose low cross bounced back to the winger, whose shot struck a defender and looped in.

source – BBC

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