Match report: United 3 Aston Villa 2

Tuesday 26 December 2023 22:15

Manchester United emerged victorious against Aston Villa at Old Trafford, coming back from two goals down to win the game 3-2, in front of a buzzing Boxing Day crowd.

Erik ten Hag's side trailed 2-0 at the interval after the visitors opened the scoring through a John McGinn set-play, that went straight in. Our arrears were doubled by Leander Dendoncker just five minutes later, again from a set-piece, this time a corner. 

However, the Reds returned from the halfway point with purpose. Alejandro Garnacho thought he'd clawed one back but it was ruled by VAR to be offside. Undeterred, the Argentina international replied with a two goals in just over 10 minutes to get the Reds back on level terms. 

The game needed a hero to step up and he duly did, in the form of Rasmus Hojlund, notching his first Premier League goal for the club, and what an important one it proved to be.

Alejandro Garnacho started on the right and was electric.


The Reds opened the first five minutes of play brightly, waiting patiently for the perfect moment to launch an attack with the speed and directness manager Erik ten Hag mentioned pre-match.

Making his first start since November, Christian Eriksen made his returning intent clear, hitting a loose ball first time on the half-volley sweetly but straight at Emiliano Martinez.

It then fell to the Villans to ask some questions of their own. Bruno Fernandes was penalised for a high boot on the visitors' right flank, giving opposition captain McGinn a chance to whip the ball into the box. The delivery evaded everybody in the box, finding a route into the far-left corner and was awarded after a VAR review to see if it got a touch.

Another set-piece, just five minutes later, saw Unai Emery's side double their lead. Clement Lenglet nodded the ball back into the middle from a corner towards the outstretched leg of Dendoncker, his reactive touch enough to send the ball into the back of the net from close range, despite being surrounded by United players.

Now facing an uphill battle, the Reds tried to turn up the pressure with a flurry of quality chances on the half-hour mark from Bruno Fernandes, Marcus Rashford and Garnacho, but none quite lethal enough to test Martinez. 

The Old Trafford crowd thought Rashford had the ball in the back of the net just before the interval, our no.10 twisting and turning in front of Ezri Konsa to get his shot off, but the effort flew just past Martinez's near post, maintaining the two-goal deficit heading into the break. 


Despite a first half to forget, the Reds emerged from the tunnel for the second 45 minutes to determined applause and a roar from the fans in M16. 

It seemed the Reds had responded rapidly. On the break, Rashford switched the play to Garnacho, who took it round the goalkeeper Martinez, before slotting it home, but it wasn't to be, as VAR ruled that our no.17 was offside when the original ball was played. 

Fernandes visibly tried to buoy his side following the decision. Our captain got straight back into the game, delivering a long ball for Rashford to chase. Our no.10 drew a seemingly uncontrolled challenge from Martinez on the edge of the penalty, but it was judged to be fair by the referee, and only a throw-in was awarded.

Not hampered by the setback, Rashford once again picked up the ball on the left wing before switching the play to Garnacho in exactly the same fashion as before. The Argentina international finished his chance again, this time without suggestion of offside. 

The young winger, relentless in his determination, levelled the game with his second on the 70th minute. Picking up a loose ball in the box, he let off an instinctive shot that took a deflection off Diego Carlos and flew past Martinez. 

United looked in control, but Jonny Evans needed to make one brilliant block. A winner was needed, though, and it was none other than Hojlund who stepped up to the plate, volleying home when a corner bounced off McGinn, the drive clipping the visitors' post and going in.

The Dane sprinted off towards the jubilant Stretford End. The comeback was complete, despite nine minutes of injury time as the Reds worked tirelessly until the final whistle. All three points were staying in Manchester. 

This is what it meant to Rasmus Hojlund.


United: Onana; Wan-Bissaka, Varane, Evans, Dalot; Mainoo (McTominay 80), Eriksen (Gore 90+3); Garnacho (Hannibal 90+3), Fernandes, Rashford (Antony 80); Hojlund (Kambwala 88).

Substitutes not used: Bayindir, Reguilon, van de Beek, Pellistri.

Bookings: Fernandes.

Goals: Garnacho 59, 72, Hojlund 82.

Aston Villa: Martinez; Konsa, Carlos, Lenglet, Digne (Moreno 50); McGinn (Duran 86), Dendoncker (Ireogbunam 86), Luiz, Ramsey (Diaby 77); Bailey (Zaniolo 77), Watkins.

Substitutes: Marschall, Proctor, Chambers, Torres.

Bookings: Ramsey, Carlos, Konsa.

Goals: McGinn 21, Dendoncker 26.