10-MAN UNITED HELD BUT TITLE RACE WILL BE CLOSE
By Football Talk.
Aston Villa 1-1 Manchester United
Manchester United managed to take a point at Villa Park, despite playing for the majority of the game with 10-men after Nani was sent off mid-way through the first half. The draw took Sir Alex Ferguson’s men to within a point of Chelsea following their 2-1 lose to Everton.
After a quiet start the first real chance of the game resulted in the opening goal on 15 minutes. Downings cross was knocked back out by Rafael, but his clearance fell to Carlos Cuellar who’s looping header from 15 yards evaded Van Der Sar to give Villa the lead.
1-0 Cuellar (19)
However their lead was short lived as United drew level 4 minutes later. Ryan Gigg’s found space in the Villa box and his cross was turned into his own net by Collins. That goal gave United their 10th own goal of the season, an amazing statistic and own goals is now Man United’s second top scorer this season.
Then the big talking point in the game arrived after Nani was given his marching orders after a two footed lunge on Petrov. Replays show he got the ball but players simply can’t jump in with two feet these days and the referee had very little option but to give the red card.
Nani sent off (29)
Despite being a man down it was still United who looked more likely to get a second, with Friedel saving well from Carrick and Rooney sending a shot over the bar.
An entertaining first half ended 1-1 and Martin O’Neills team would have to do a lot more if they were to win this one.
Manchester United set up to hit Villa on the counter attack in the second half and taking the game to the opposition is not something Aston Villa are used to. They are more adept to hitting their opponents on the counter and they struggled to create anything of note in the early stages of the second half.
Freidel once again denied Rooney with a fine save following a long-range effort from the England striker. John Carew had a decent penalty claim turned down when Evans appeared to have hold of his shirt in te box. Neither side could find a way threw and a disappointing second half ended at 1-1.
The Nani sending off killed the game in a way as it forced United into a more defensive approach and Villa are not good at taking the game to the opposition. Sir Alex Ferguson may feel his side could have taken all three points despite being a man down. They held Villa with relative ease and had the better chances. A win would have seen United overtake Chelsea at the top of the Premier League table. While Arsenal’s 1-0 victory over Liverpool brings them to within 6 points of Chelsea and 5 from United.
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