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' stray pass allowed the hosts to break and Benteke's dummy saw Ireland switch the ball to Agbonlahor. The speedy forward made the most of the space afforded to him on the left to cross for Weimann to thunder in from close range.
United looked to be on the ropes but Hernandez showed his nose for goal to reduce the deficit eight minutes later. The in-form Mexican made the most of Scholes' delightful ball over the top to clip under Guzan for his seventh strike of the season.
Five minutes later, it looked as though Chicharito had swiftly extended his tally to eight but instead the equaliser was credited as a Vlaar