Report: Manchester United 4 Villa 2
Manchester United have booked our place in round four of the Carabao Cup, after a thoroughly entertaining 4-2 victory over Aston Villa at Old Trafford.
After what was a low-key opening first 45 minutes, the action sprung into life during the second period, with goals from Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford, Bruno Fernandes and Scott McTominay sealing victory in M16.
Having fallen behind twice in the contest, Ollie Watkins opened the scoring after the interval, with our French forward Martial instantly hitting back. Diogo Dalot then turned into his own net, before Rashford equalised once more. Fernandes and McTominay then both found the net in the last 15 minutes, as Erik ten Hag's side progressed in the competition.
There were few chances but Tyrell Malacia's early searching ball initially looked set to be seized upon by Martial, before skidding along the dampened Old Trafford surface to almost find Fernandes over on the right. Robin Olsen was however quick to deal with any potential danger, sweeping the ball clear and out for a corner.
United did have the ball in the net after 17 minutes, as the game began with a cagey tempo. Fred's through ball found Rashford in behind the Villans' backline, as our no.10 raced through before squaring the ball to Fernandes to tap home, with the offside flag raised on the far side just moments later.
Failing to cause United any real threat in the opening exchanges, a rare Villa attack forced a corner for Erik ten Hag's side to deal with. Douglas Luiz's in-swinging delivery looked to catch out Martin Dubravka at his near post, with McTominay quickest to react to head away any potential danger.
Moments later, Luiz's second successive corner was initially cleared by McTominay again, before former captain Ashley Young tried his luck from his distance, with his strike flying high and wide and thus into the lower section of the Stretford End.
SECOND HALF - CONTEST COMES ALIVE
With only two minutes gone in the second half, Villa took the lead, as Jacob Ramsey found Ollie Watkins darting in behind our backline and he expertly finished into the net. The Englishman raced through on goal, before lifting his effort over our on-rushing debutant Dubravka to open the scoring.
However, just a mere 19 seconds following the restart, the Reds were level, as Martial notched his fourth goal of the season. With Fernandes the orchestrator, our no.8 took the ball down superbly after being found in behind, before laying the ball on a plate for Martial to tap home, thus restoring parity in the game.
Villa then retook the lead as Ashley Young's deep cross was met by substitute Leon Bailey at the back post, with Dalot inadvertently turning the Jamaican's effort into his own net, with United once again tasked with coming from behind.
Rashford almost levelled things as Malacia cleverly picked him out. He twisted and turned inside the visitors' penalty area, before his right-footed strike clipped the post and flashed wide of the mark. Our no.10, however, quickly made amends, with Malacia again involved. His chipped pass found Rashford initially, before he nodded the ball through to Christian Eriksen to run onto. Young's strong challenge dispossessed the Dane in the process, before Rashford seized onto the loose ball, smashing past Olsen.
Malacia's low cross into the area caused Villa further problems with time ticking on, as he picked out Fernandes in the process. His turn and shot was saved well once more by the stubborn Olsen, with the ball turned away for a corner. Captain Harry Maguire powerfully met the resulting set-piece, with the Swede again denying United.
But with 12 minutes remaining, our reward was finally found, as the ever-involved Olsen gifted the ball to substitute Alejandro Garnacho. The teenager turned provider as he found Fernandes, who, in turn, raced through and fired home our third of the evening, via a deflection.
As the game ticked on, Ten Hag again opted to go to the bench to bring on Casemiro, bidding to find a vital grip on the midfield area. However, McTominay then put the gloss on the game with just seconds remaining, as the Scot stretched wonderfully to tap home Garnacho's cross, shortly after rattling the bar with a great attempt, as we progressed to round four of the competition.
United: Dubravka; Dalot, Maguire (c), Lindelof (Martinez, 87), Malacia; McTominay, Fred (Eriksen, 62); Fernandes, van de Beek (Elanga, 62), Rashford (Casemiro, 82); Martial (Garnacho, 62)
Subs not used: De Gea, Shaw, Pellistri, Shoretire.
Goals: Martial 49, Rashford 67, Fernandes 78, McTominay 90+1.
Booked: McTominay, Maguire, Fernandes.
Villa: Olsen; Augustinsson (Digne, 80), Konsa (Mings, 59), Chambers, Young (Cash, 73); Luiz, McGinn, Kamara; Ramsey (Bailey, 59) Ings (Buendia, 59) Watkins.
Subs not used: Martinez, Nakamba, Sanson, Archer.
Goals: Watkins 48, Dalot (og] 61.
Booked: Luiz, Young.