Aston Villa 2 Manchester United 2
Manchester United were held to a 2-2 draw with Aston Villa on Saturday evening, as Bruno Fernandes's earlier brace was cancelled out by two late strikes from Steven Gerrard's side.
Fernandes opened the scoring inside the first six minutes, and doubled United's lead on 67 minutes after latching on to a fine assist from Fred.
But Villa hit back late on in a frantic five-minute spell - firstly through Jacob Ramsey and then debutant Philippe Coutinho - to deny the Reds all three points.
The Reds remain seventh in the Premier League table and next face Brentford away in four days' time.
FIRST HALF - UNITED FORGE AHEAD
In what turned out to be a perfect start for the Reds, a quickly taken free-kick routine involving Alex Telles and Bruno Fernandes allowed the latter to strike from range. Villa goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez fumbled the ball into his own net, handing United the lead after just six minutes.
Anthony Elanga was the next player to go close, nodding just wide from Fred’s cross, as Rangnick’s side started the brighter of the two teams. On 18 minutes, United came forward again, as Telles’s wonderful left-footed delivery found the unmarked Mason Greenwood, whose goalbound effort was saved well by Martinez.
Villa debutant Lucas Digne was shown the game’s first yellow card following a late challenge on Diogo Dalot. Telles stepped up to take the subsequent free-kick, forcing the ever busy Villans keeper Martinez to push the ball clear.
Ollie Watkins mustered the home team’s first effort on goal on the half-hour mark, with David De Gea easily collecting the forward’s rather tame effort. Five minutes later, our Spanish shot-stopper was once more at his best, denying Emi Buendia’s header from a dangerous-looking Digne corner.
De Gea was again on hand to keep Villa out moments before the half-time interval, as Digne’s low powerful drive was saved well by the Reds’ no.1.
SECOND HALF - VILLA FIGHT BACK
The ever-threatening Elanga wasted little time before attacking Villa in the second half, firing an effort goalwards and forcing Martinez into action once more. Just minutes later, De Gea was called upon for the first time following the interval, smartly denying Ramsey who weaved his way into the box before taking aim.
Buendia then tested his luck from the edge of the area on 55 minutes, as again Villa’s new January addition Digne did well to carve open the opportunity down the left flank.
Greenwood broke forward for United, as his left-footed strike from the edge of the area sailed wide, with Elanga also failing to hit the target just a minute later after carving open his own opportunity in an attempt to double the Reds’ lead. And on 66 minutes, Rangnick’s men did just that, as a misplaced pass from Morgan Sanson was seized on by Fred, who in turn played in Fernandes to fire home both his and the Reds' second of the evening.
Nemanja Matic’s blushes were spared minutes later, as his heavy backpass was quickly swept away by De Gea, with Steven Gerrard’s side bidding to respond with time running out in the West Midlands.
With 13 minutes remaining, Villa did halve their deficit, with Ramsey picking up the ball in a tightly congested United penalty area, finding room to fire past De Gea.
The comeback was complete just four minutes, as the Villans broke down the left flank with Ramsey this time turning provider, as the Villa man squared the ball for substitute and debutant Philippe Coutinho, who tapped home his side’s leveller.
Villa’s new no.23 then went close once more with three minutes left, picking up the ball on the edge of the area before tamely firing into De Gea’s palms.
As the full-time whistle sounded, the points were shared and the Reds must now move on to the next test - a midweek trip to the capital to face Brentford.
Aston Villa: Martinez, Cash, Konsa (Hause, 46), Mings, Digne, Sanson (Coutinho, 68), Douglas Luiz, Ramsey, Watkins, Ings (Chukwuemeka, 76), Buendia.
Subs not used: Steer, Young, Archer, Targett, Iroegbunam, Hayden.
Goals: Ramsey (77), Coutinho (82).
Bookings: Digne (27).
United: De Gea, Dalot, Lindelof, Varane, Telles, Fred, Matic, Greenwood (Lingard, 89), Fernandes (van de Beek, 89), Elanga, Cavani.
Subs not used: Heaton, Henderson, Jones, Maguire, Mata, Sancho.
Goal: Fernandes (6, 67).
Bookings: Matic (31), Fernandes (46).