Manchester United had to settle for a second successive high-scoring Premier League draw in a week as we drew 2-2 with Aston Villa at Old Trafford.
The Reds had drawn last Sunday in Yorkshire against Sheffield United in a 3-3 thriller at Bramall Lane. This wasn’t as Box Office by any means, and Villa took an early lead in front of the Stretford End with a Jack Grealish curler after 11 minutes.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side fought back to equalise with an own goal off former United Academy keeper Tom Heaton and then went in front in the second half, thanks to Victor Lindelof’s first goal of the campaign. But the joy was short-lived was Tyrone Mings quickly got Villa back on level terms.
Disappointingly, United were unable to regain the lead and it meant a missed opportunity to climb up to fifth in the table.
United began in a subdued manner and struggled to create any danger in the early minutes.
Any promising breaks we made ended with a delivery into the Villa box that found space rather than a red shirt. And we paid for the sluggish opening after 11 minutes when Villa took the lead.
United appeared to have the numbers to cope with the Midlanders’ raid but the cross from the right by Anwar El Ghazi evaded the Reds defence and fell nicely for Grealish. The Villa midfielder stunned Old Trafford as he controlled the ball and then curled a right-foot effort around Andreas Pereira, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and David De Gea.
United’s first shot on target came after 22 minutes. Good work from Fred set Anthony Martial free but it was a comfortable save for ex-Red Heaton.
It looked like 2-0 in the 29th minute when, once again, we failed to contain lively Villa’s break. Goalscorer Grealish drilled in a dangerous low cross and the ball was being bundled everywhere but away from danger before Trezequet forced it over the line.
Villa celebrated it but assistant-referee Darren Cann flagged and match official Craig Pawson ruled it out after look from VAR had ruled Grealish offside.
Marcus Rashford had an opportunity to settle the growing apprehension and lift the mood but the striker scuffed his shot wide in the 31st minute. The Reds were nowhere near our best and Old Trafford was beginning to wonder where the inspiration for an equaliser might come from.
It finally arrived in the 42nd minute and it was a brilliant ball in from Andreas that set up Rashford for a close-range header. The effort went in off the post and Heaton’s back and was eventually officially deemed an own goal. But who cared? It was 1-1.
A second half upswing on confidence was slow in coming but Martial came closest in the 58th minute as United took command. The Frenchman’s neat footwork in Villa’s penalty area created a moment of space but Heaton got his chest in the way of the shot.
There was a big shout for a penalty when Juan Mata went down in the box soon after but referee Pawson waved ‘play on’ and there was no good news for United from VAR.
Villa’s impressive first-half performance had been turned around by United and the improved hosts went ahead in the 64th minute.
Fred slung in a cross from the right and Villa centre forward Wesley could only glance the ball backwards to the far post where Lindelof looped in his header to make it 2-1. But United’s advantage only lasted two minutes before the visitors were level.
The stadium had to wait for VAR to determine whether scorer Mings was offside when he volleyed in with his left foot in acres of space to connect with a dinked ball into the box. But it was clear from replays the central defender had stole in behind a packed Reds defence to score after 66 minutes, with Brandon Williams the furthest man back, and VAR confirmed it.
Solskjaer made his first change of the game when he brought Jesse Lingard on in the 74th minute to replace Mata. His second came three minutes later as Luke Shaw replaced Williams.
That change came just after Martial forced his way through a packed area to cleverly lift a shot just over from close range in the 78th minute. But it was his last real chance to become a match-winning hero as he made way soon afterwards for Mason Greenwood. However, there were no late chances to be had for the young striker, nor anyone else for that matter, as United disappointingly dropped two league points.
United: De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire (c), Williams (Shaw 78); Andreas, Fred; James, Mata (Lingard 74), Rashford; Martial (Greenwood 82).
Subs not used: Grant, Tuanzebe, Young, Garner.
Scorers: Heaton (own goal) 42, Lindelof 64
Bookings: Maguire, Fred, Williams, Shaw
Aston Villa: Heaton; Guilbert, Mings, Konza, Targett; Luiz, McGinn, Hourihane (Lansbury 80); El Ghazi (Trezeguet 17), Wesley, Grealish (c).
Subs not used: Nyland, Engels, Elmohamady, Nakamba, Kodjia.
Scorers: Grealish 11, Mings 66