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Aston Villa recorded their first victory at Old Trafford in 26 years by beating Man Utd 1-0 thanks to a first half header from Gabriel Agbonlahor.

A win for Manchester United would see them go level on points at the top of the table with Chelsea following their 3-3 draw with Everton 24 hours earlier. Aston Villa could climb to third with a win and put themselves right in contention for a Champions League spot.

After a lively start by both teams without any real chances being created, Villa struck first after a nice move by their England stars Ashley Young and Gabriel Agbonlahor. Young’s precise cross from the left was not dealt with by Utd’s Wes Brown or stand-in keeper Thomas Kuszczak, who both miss judged the flight of the ball as Agbonlahor stole in between the two to head the ball into an empty net. 1-0 Villa after 21 minutes, Utd had it all to do but had time on their side.

As Utd looked for an equilizer Villa almost made it 2 after another mix-up in the Utd defense. This time Fletcher lost possession inside the Utd box after receiving an unexpected pass from Kuszczak, Agbonlahor was free 12 yards out but unselfishly tried to lay the ball across goal to the unmarked Heskey but Kuszczak made amends and got his fingertips to it to deny Heskey a tap-in.

Man Utd had their chances with Rooney crashing as effort against the bar from close range following a brilliant piece of control and was later carded for a blatant dive in the Villa area when it may have been better for him to stay on his feet. Half time arrived and Villa went in with a 1-0 lead, time for more of the hair-dryer treatment for the Utd players.

Ferguson brought on Owen at the break as he went searching for goals. Rooney had been guilty of missing a couple of half chances in the first half and his off-day continues after the break as he over hit a through ball for Berbatov which would have seen him clean through on goal. He wouldn’t have to wait long for another chance as the Bulgarian drove a low effort which was bound for the bottom corner but Freidal got down low to make a great save. Then Carrick found space down the right and cut the ball back for Berbatov again, but he miss-cued his effort terribly and another chance was missed.

With 10 minutes remaining Vidic finally thought he had found a way past the Villa defense as he sent a powerful header towards goal from a corner, only for Downing to clear off the line. It wasn’t Utd’s day and Villa held out for a well-earned 3 points.

Ferguson will no doubt feel this was a massive opportunity missed to put the pressure on Chelsea. While Martin O’Neill’s Aston Villa look like they are real contenders for a top 4 place.

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