break and Rio Ferdinand having to clear when Benteke sprung the offside trap.
With Patrice Evra and Smalling needing treatment at various stages, it was a rough ride in defence and Gabriel Agbonlahor did not make the most of a Stephen Ireland pass, even if Smalling did miskick a poorly-placed cross. Referee Kevin Friend whistled when Ireland robbed Scholes to set up Benteke, one of a string of fouls on the midfield veteran, but it failed to provide a wake-up call.
United lacked urgency and found Vlaar in commanding form at the heart of the home defence, even if Sir Alex's side were dominating possession. Ireland clipped a left-foot shot wide with Villa's first real attempt of the game before a bolt out of the blue in first-half stoppage time. With some supporters expecting play to be called to a halt when two Villa players collided, both teams instead continued and Benteke tore down the left, shoving Smalling to the ground in the process.
Referee Friend saw nothing untoward in the muscular challenge and the striker shrewdly picked out Weimann, who side-footed a rocket of a finish past David De Gea to hand the Midlanders a surprise lead. Although the Reds certainly did not deserve to be ahead at the interval, it's fair to say falling behind had rarely looked on the cards.
Clearly unhappy with events, Sir Alex withdrew Young and replaced him with Hernandez but Villa went further ahead in the 50th minute. Scholes'