Ben Fisher was at Villa Park. Here’s his report.
Harry Maguire, who had a fine game for United, also spoke to Sky Sports: ““I think we started well, scored to deservedly lead and then the tempo of our pressing dropped off and we weren’t aggressive enough. We allowed them back in and we conceded from a set-play which really disappointing at a place like this.
“Great spirit and fight to come back and Scott [McTominay] is the match-winner again. It’s an amazing feeling but we’d like to make it a little more easy for ourselves.
Super-sub Scott McTominay spoke to Sky Sports: “I feel like as long as I’m fit and healthy I can come onto the pitch and perform. I don’t take it personally, I just want to come in and try and do the best I can for this. Long may it continue.
“It was an unbelievable cross to be fair, whipped with a lot of pace. I just needed it to hit my head and get it on target. Full credit to the boys, we created a lot of good chances which may go unnoticed.”
United’s celebrations are not wild, they’re the right side of a celebration police ruling.
The gap is closing now. Villa have suffered since they lost on Boxing Day at Old Trafford.
A dramatic win at Villa Park; just like the old United. The gap is closed to five points and Scott McTominay’s goal means it’s them in the ascendancy. A well-constructed winner from this season’s unlikely talisman does it for Ten Hag.
90+5 min: Villa fans urge on their men. United fans exuberant, even more so when Onana claims the ball from Diego Carlos’ overcooked pump into the box. That’s it, United will see this one out.
90+4 min: Garnacho sent away and fails to get a shot in. Martinez collects and sends Villa away on an attack. United are back in numbers and Jonny Evans launches his old bones at a fizzing shot.
90+3 min: Matty Cash, cutting in on his left, shoots. Onana reads it. Then clanks the ball back out of play.
90+2 min: Fernandes puts in a fine covering tackle, as United prepare to make subs. Some barging from Douglas Luiz makes sure Hojlund comes off. Mainoo departs, too. On come Jonny Evans and Amrabat.
90+1 min: Six minutes added on…
90 min: Watkins spins and shoots. Onana is behind the ball.
89 min: Emery now wearing that Steve Coogan-esque face of annoyance. You know the one, where it looks like he’s caught downwind of something malodorous.
88 min: Did that goal come from nowhere? Ten Hag’s change paid off, whereas Bailey going off meant United were invited on. Unai Emery’s anxiety prior to that goal suggested he was fearful of making the wrong decision.
Dalot tries to win a corner but has to settle for a throw. United look for an opening and find it! Mainoo lays up Dalot, and the cross zings in and in comes McTominay to head home!
83 min: The boos resume as Maguire and McGinn put their rumps into service with a touchline bump and grind. The whistle signals that Maguire is penalised. Next, Diaby is penalised for fouling Varane. Emery is meanwhile going radio rental at Ollie Watkins for conceding possesssion.
82 min: Eventually, United force a move that finds Garnacho on its end, and he can’t get enough on the shot. Too easy for Martinez.
81 min: United pass it around. Villa sat back in shape. Tension rather than drama, though Emery sounds animated.
79 min: Things calming a little after all that energy expended. Then Lindelof is pressurised after Maguire and Onana dally. It allows Moreno chance to try and dance through. He’s thwarted, this time. Then Diaby goes away, space opening but the shot is very poor.
77 min: Douglas Luiz has a golden chance when Dalot can only clear with the ball headed behind him and between him and Moreno. It’s scuffed. Onana saves with relief. He was all at sea.
76 min: United seek to up their game. Garnacho shoots, then Casemiro blams the ball over.
75 min: United seem to be taking time over set pieces. To boos, obviously.
73 min: United withdraw Rashford, and on comes McTominay. Villa take off Bailey for Tielemans. That flank had dominated the half, now the most dangerous attackers have departed.
72 min: David Wall’s given up the ghost: “There go United’s hopes of making the Champions’ League places and having a consistently good end to the season. The return of Luke Shaw and Lisandro Martinez (i.e. the left side of their defence) has been crucial to their improved performances and results in the past few weeks, as a number of people have commented.
“It’s also been important in Marcus Rashford’s upturn in form. If both are absent for any length of time then they’ll slip back into their bitty form of the first half of the season where you don’t know what you’re going to get each week. In terms of the importance of the players they’ve had missing for long periods i think United have had it as bad as anyone this season.”
71 min: Garnacho, off the left, comes across and shoots..,just wide. Rashford’s dummy run had taken away Matty Cash. United – playing catch-up, remember – need to up their game. A Villa winner seems the likelier.
70 min: Onana gets in a mess, chased down by Watkins. United very wobbly and Ten Hag has got his worried face on.
68 min: It had been coming for Villa. Lindelof for Shaw has not helped United’s cause at all. But Villa have been playing well, and dominated an opponent looking mostly to get it launched to Hojlund. Great noise now, by the way.
Villa corner, conceded by Bruno Fernandes, who then concedes another, Villa’s 10th. The ball fizzes in, Onana is all at sea, the ball comes out and then Bailey scrapes it back in and Douglas Luiz roofs it, and does the dance of Lee Sharpe/The Three Amigos to celebrate.
65 min: That’s it for Kamara, and on comes Mousa Diaby. All-out attack from Emery. Kamara looked to jar his knee.
63 min: Bailey has the beating of Lindelof. It’s all happening down one side. Villa’s Kamara is down. There’s respite at last.
61 min: Matty Cash booked for tripping up Rashford. That puts him on sudden death against a player who looks a bit more up for it. From the free-kick, Fernandes almost hits Maguire whose response is slow. Back it goes…and United have to hack clear……back down the other end where Rashford has chance to roast Cash again but decides to pass.
59 min: Another short corner. Another communication breakdown and away go Villa. Ramsey looks to be in on goal but he just fails to control the ball. Tension at both ends.
58 min: Rashford almost finds the angle to goal. But: another corner.
56 min: Villa seem to want to play the counterattack and wait for United to cough up the ball. They get it eventually, Leon Bailey forcing another corner. Casemiro gets that one clear. United go up the pitch and force Martinez into an error as the sweeper keeper. Ultimately, keepers aren’t top-level outfield footballers are they?
55 min: Two corners result, the second is claimed by Onana at his second helping.
54 min: Villa are looking for those passes down the half-spaces, between the lines and all that jazz, with Watkins making runs but they have to settle for a corner.
52 min: Mainoo’s ball for Fernandes sees Martinez charge out to claim. The Villa fans in the Holte End get behind their men. United keep trying to send Hojlund beyond that Villa high line. Martinez again serves as sweeper keeper.
51 min: A more sustained United counter and Garnacho wins a corner. Bruno Fernandes will take it. This time, Villa clear it, though there’s a handball claim. It’s not given.
50 min: A Ramsey solo run is averted – just – by some panicky United defending. Then Garnacho is away, sent by Casemiro. But: offside.
48 min: Good save from Onana! Did he mean it? Watkins smashes it at him from point-blank range. Lindelof was guilty of giving the ball away.
47 min: Rashford suddenly finds himself in space, cuts in, but the shot is powderpuff. That was a fine chance he might have done better with.
46 min: More Crazy Train, and we go again. Though Luke Shaw isn’t doing so. He’s been replaced by Victor Lindelof. Will Dalot move left? No, he’s right-sided again, but that’s a sizeable defensive reshuffle.
From the London Stadium, David Hytner.
It had to be Declan Rice. The former West Ham hero had set up goals with whipped free-kicks for William Saliba and Gabriel Magalhães – numbers one and three, to be precise – when Ben White passed back and Leandro Trossard and Martin Ødegaard left it for each other. Enter Rice.
The midfielder’s shot from outside the area curled away from Alphonse Areola to find the far corner and that sound you heard were of seats clicking back and people making for the exits. Rice did not celebrate and when he was substituted immediately afterwards, there was generous applause from the West Ham fans who had stayed.
Norrie Hernon gets in touch: “Isn’t booing just another part of the euphemistic “creating an atmosphere”? It’s neither nice nor sporting, but nor is it new. Managers have for years encouraged both players and crowds to pressure the ref. I think Dave Brailsford would call it a “marginal gain”.
There’s probably a powerpoint display on just that being winged round the OT leadership group.
It’s tense, nervy and biting, and United have a lead because they had worked on set pieces perhaps better than Villa. Plenty of chances at both ends. Plenty of boos too. It would be a surprise if it ends up at 1-0.
45+5 min: United play a corner short, and make too much of it. Then Mainoo is penalised for tactical foul of the type that might one day be a blue card. So too Clement Lenglet, who gets a yellow for dissent…the half is seen out with a right old swedge in the United box, the ball eventually coming off McGinn and going out.
45+3 min: McGinn at the heart of things for Villa, chasing around, buzzing about and then Moreno decides to try and win a foul. It’s not the best acting performance you will see. The RSC will call him, not ask him to call them.
45+2 min: Rick Harris makes a good point: “Fascinating battle for 5th place between two sides who are best on the counterattack, so while United may appear tp be sitting back I suspect they are simply wanting Villa to commit players forward so they can kill them on the break.”
45 min: McGinn shoots at goal, misses but then Onana makes a mess and concedes a corner. Maguire – at the other end – gets it clear. Four minutes added on as the next corner is cleared far more easily.
44 min: Bruno Fernandes is penalised for a foul on Ramsey. He doesn’t get booked. He probably should have been. That was a little reckless. Free-kick in a very dangerous position.
43 min: Luke Shaw has to do some hurried defending as the ball bounces all over the United box. Eventually, the danger is cleared. But then Onana gets pressed hard and shanks the ball out of play.
41 min: Maguire wins the ball from the corner again. This time the knockdown is cleared but not much lateral thinking going on when it comes to defending set pieces from Villa.
40 min: Maguire steps out to smash the ball out. Howls of anguish when Shaw wins a tackle. Then Hojlund wins a corner to, yes, boos.
37 min: Casemiro is booked, the first in the book.
Here’s Stephen Carr: “Hi John. I know you.said there could be no complaints about the goal but I think its maybe worth mentioning the free kick that led to the corner was very generous and Casemeiro, who’s header led to that corner, was clearly offside?”
The first debatable, the second I will have to see again. That they didn’t defend the corner well is undoubted. And that’s the problem when everyone wants to referee the game themselves. We’ve forgotten the rule of playing to the whistle.
34 min: Mega boos when Kamara is robbed on the edge of the box by Mainoo. But cheers when the same happens to Hojlund at the other end. Now there’s some barracking of the ref. After all, there’s a worldwide conspiracy against…checks notes…Aston Villa/Your Club/Delete As Applicable.
To set aside some obvious failing in officialdoms, a big problem is that everyone seems to want to referee the game themselves.
33 min: Unai Emery, the man in black, is in permanent motion on the Villa Park sidelines.