Manchester United have won their third round FA cup tie 1-0 against Aston Villa and will face Middlesbrough in the fourth round.
A much changed United side took on Steven Gerrard’s side at the Theatre of Dreams and Cristiano Ronaldo didn’t even make the bench as he nursed a hip injury. Jadon Sancho was also ruled out of the tie.
The first chance for United came from Scott McTominay as he latched on to a blocked shot from Rashford, striking it from outside the box but it was straight at the keeper.
It was the academy graduate who made the breakthrough in the eighth minute. Fred delivered the ball into the danger area as McTominay rose higher than the Villa defenders and headed it home.
Moments later, Villa had a chance at the other end as Lindelof tried to head a corner clear but instead put it into the path of Ollie Watkins who was arriving at the back post but he wasn’t anticipating it and bundled it wide.
Villa forced a good save from De Gea in the opening twenty minutes too as McGinn was given way too much time and space to get a shot away.
Cavani had a good chance as United counter attacked. Bruno Fernandes, leading the charge, waited for options before playing it to the Uruguayan, who forced a good save from Martinez.
It was Villa’s turn to counter as another mistake from Lindelof left the door open again for Watkins, who found the underside of the crossbar.
Moments later Villa had another chance which was deflected just wide of the goal.
The game seemed to come in waves and United had survived this Villa wave and it was their turn to attack.
Strong defending from Villa denied Fernandes before Shaw ran on to a ball from a long way out, striking it with power and Martinez pulled off a brilliant save to tip it over the bar.
Fernandes and Rashford were linking up well with some brilliant runs and passes but they just couldn’t capitalise on it.
United began the second half on the front foot, pressing well they forced a mistake from Villa which allowed Cavani and Fernandes to link up for an attack but the defence tracked back well and forced it out for a corner.
However, it wasn’t long before Villa found the back of the net from a free kick. With Cavani sprawled out in the penalty area, it was headed across the face of goal, flicked on by Watkins and received a final touch from Ings to find the back of the net.
A lengthy VAR check ensued, no one really sure whether it was a foul or offside that they were checking.
Eventually, referee Michael Oliver was called to the monitor and ruled that Ramsey blocked Cavani, and the goal was chalked off to huge cheers and sighs of relief from the home supporters.
Tensions were boiling over especially between McGinn and Fernandes and the Villa wave kept on coming. It felt like United were clinging on in the second half.
A couple of chances ensued for United as they grappled with the game. A tame shot from Greenwood was scooped up by Martinez before he later forced a save which Rashford could have tapped in but he stopped his run and began walking back before Villa had regained control of the ball.
United were crying out for fresh legs and Rangnick tried to sure things up by bringing Donny Van De Beek on. He also brought Lingard and Elanga on for a fresh attacking force.
Though they didn’t have much time to make an impact, Elanga and Lingard linked up well, the former making good runs and Lingard showing great skill and control as he danced round two defenders to keep an attack alive.
It was a scrappy win for the Reds but Ralf Rangnick and the fans will take it.
Team: de Gea, Lindelof, Rashford (Elanga 86), Greenwood, Fred, Fernandes (Lingard 85), Varane, Dalot, Cavani (Van De Beek 72), Shaw, McTominay