Manchester United have a superb record at Villa Park, in all competitions, but after Aston Villa’s victory at Old Trafford earlier in the season this game looked to be well and truly in the balance.
The hosts probably had the better of the opening exchanges with James Milner and Stewart Downing going close before Carlos Cuellar eventually gave the Villains the lead in the 19th minute. Downing’s cross to the far post was not properly cleared and Cuellar rose majestically to nod the ball over a stranded Edwin Van Der Sar and send Villa Park into raptures.
However, the goal seemed to spark the two-time reigning champions into life and United were back on level terms within four minutes as in-form Nani’s far post cross was volleyed back across the face of goal before being bundled into his own net by the unfortunate James Collins. It was the tenth own goal scored for the Red Devils this season and looked to start an ominous trend as they took control.
The game took a dramatic twist though just before the half hour mark as Nani lunged into a clumsy challenge with both feet showing and referee Peter Walton immediately showed the Portuguese winger a red card.
Normally the ten men would fall back into their shell and hold on for a point but United took the game to Villa throughout the entire second period and Brad Friedel was called into action regularly by the hard-working Wayne Rooney as well as a couple of stinging volleys from Michael Carrick. Villa rarely threatened to trouble Van Der Sar and their fans began to grow frustrated as the second half wore on with United applying all the pressure.
Southampton have announced plans for a two-week tour of China as part of their pre-season preparations for the 2018-19 season.