MANCHESTER, December 2: Manchester United are eight points adrift of the Premier League top four after throwing away a second half lead to draw 2-2 with Aston Villa at Old Trafford on Sunday.
Jack Grealish shot Villa into the lead with a superb solo effort midway through the first half, but United levelled before the break when Marcus Rashford’s header hit the post and came off Villa goalkeeper Tom Heaton into his own net.
Victor Lindelof then headed United in front, but the lead lasted just two minutes before Tyrone Mings secured a deserved point for Dean Smith’s visitors.
Villa remain just three points behind United in 15th, but edge three points clear of the relegation zone.
Grealish’s excellent season continued when he shot the visitors into the lead after 11 minutes.
Anwar El Ghazi burst down the right wing before crossing through the United area for Grealish to gather the ball on the left-hand side and take advantage of Andreas Pereira’s decision to back off by curling a precise shot into the top corner of David de Gea’s goal.
It was the 24-year-old’s third goal of the season and, when combined with four assists, means that the seven goals in which he has been involved are the most of any English midfielder in the Premier League this season.
Villa had the ball in the United goal for a second time on the half hour, from another excellent Grealish contribution, only for Trezeguet’s effort to be ruled out for offside.
It was a near miss for United which finally prompted them into new-found urgency in their attacking play with Juan Mata soon teeing up Rashford for an untidy shot which the England forward scuffed wide.
There was another chance for Rashford, which Heaton did well to save at point-blank while conceding the 42nd minute corner from which he was unfortunate to be credited with an own goal.
Fred and Mata moved a short corner onto Andreas Pereira whose hanging cross towards the far post was headed off the post by Rashford and the ball ricocheted in via Heaton.
Grealish and Trezeguet remained a threat, with De Gea forced to tip a shot from the latter onto his bar before the interval although, in an increasingly entertaining and open contest, United finally looked as threatening as their visitors.
They even took the lead just after the hour mark when Fred swung over a cross which took an unkind deflection off the head of Douglas Luiz, moving the ball onto the far post where Lindelof sent a powerful header flying past Heaton.
If Villa’s confidence was dented, they did not show it and took just two minutes to equalise when Matt Targett played an accurate cross onto the six-yard line where Mings was able to volley past the helpless de Gea.
United appealed for offside but VAR showed that Brandon Williams had clearly played the England defender on. (AFP)