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John O’Shea – An excellent outing for the Irishman, who largely snuffed out the permanent menace of Villa’s wingers and bombed forward in support of the Reds' attack.
Rio Ferdinand – A welcome return after a back injury, the towering defender made a vital late interception from James Milner’s cross and was a calming influence at the back.
Nemanja Vidic – Charged with keeping an eye on the fleet feet of Gabriel Agbonlahor, the Serb was superb. Perhaps a touch fortunate to avoid being penalised for tugging Agbonlahor’s shirt, but earned his luck with a magnificent display.
Patrice Evra – Despite taking a battering at times, the Frenchman was up and down the left flank all evening, repelling the hosts’ threats and trying in vain to inspire a United breakthrough.
Cristiano Ronaldo – A stunning first-half drive brought the best out of Brad Friedel, but otherwise the winger found a frustrating week capped by a posse of Villa defenders and a late knee injury.
Michael Carrick – Calm and composed in the centre against the impressive Gareth Barry, the England midfielder was unfortunate that Wayne Rooney couldn’t convert his delightful second-half through-ball.