Barclays Premier League
Old Trafford, Sunday 5 April 2009
MANCHESTER UNITED 3
(Ronaldo 13, 81; Macheda 90)
ASTON VILLA 2
(Carew 30, Agbonlahor 58)
United: Van der Sar; O'Shea, G Neville, Evans, Evra; Nani (Macheda 61), Carrick, Fletcher, Ronaldo; Giggs, Tevez (Welbeck 87). Subs not used: Foster, Park, Gibson, Martin, Eckersley.
Aston Villa: Friedel; L Young, Cuellar, Davies, Shorey; Milner (Reo-Coker 76), Petrov, Barry, A Young; Carew, Agbonlahor. Subs not used: Guzan, Delfouneso, Knight, Salifou, Gardner, Albrighton.
The Italian striker, then aged only 17, was thrown on for the final 30 minutes with the Reds staring a third straight league defeat in the face. Having lost at home to title rivals Liverpool and away to Fulham, United were trailing 2-1 to Aston Villa.
The visitors had edged in front with two headers - John Carew met Gareth Barry's cross to cancel out Cristiano Ronaldo's early strike, then Gabriel Agbonlahor nodded past Edwin van der Sar just before the hour mark.
Persistent United pressure eventually yielded an equaliser when Ronaldo lashed in his second goal of the game, but a draw would still have been damaging. Victory was required - and duly delivered when Macheda received the ball with his back to goal, turned and curled a superb shot past Brad Friedel into the far corner.