2015/2016 BPL 02: Aston Villa 0-1 Manchester United

Scorer: Januzaj (29') | 14 August 2015 | Villa Park | Attendance: 42,200

Adnan Januzaj justified his recall to Louis van Gaal’s starting XI on Friday by scoring the only goal in Manchester United’s 1-0 win over Aston Villa in the Barclays Premier League.

The Reds are now unbeaten in 20 top-flight matches at Villa Park in a run that stretches back to September 1996. The victory also means United have tallied six points from six available following two tricky opening fixtures, five points more than the total registered at this stage of the last campaign.

The match was notably moved to Friday night due to a heavily-policed event in Birmingham on Saturday and, although many fans were late to the stadium following traffic issues, most supporters at Villa Park appeared to enjoy the novelty of the change in schedule judging by the raucous atmosphere.

Van Gaal made just one change to his starting XI by selecting Januzaj in place of Ashley Young, with the Belgian forward playing in the hole behind Wayne Rooney, while new signing Memphis Depay performed out wide on the left, a position in which he excelled for PSV Eindhoven.

United created the first chance on 15 minutes as Memphis hit an inswinging free-kick that evaded all Villa defenders and bounced towards Morgan Schneiderlin at the back post, where the French midfielder shaped his body to glance an awkward header wide of Brad Guzan’s goal.

The Villa goalkeeper was called into action again moments later as he beat Memphis to an important 50/50 challenge. The Dutchman was active throughout the first half and created another opportunity for himself on 22 minutes when he drifted inside from the left wing to exchange passes with Rooney before hitting a deflected shot wide of goal.

United dominated possession in the opening half an hour and deservedly broke the deadlock from an excellent passing move. It began with Januzaj switching the ball to the left and ended with the recalled Belgian latching onto Juan Mata’s through-ball to calmly round Micah Richards and slot a deflected finish into the bottom corner, vindicating the manager’s decision to start him at Villa Park. It was Adnan’s first competitive goal since the 4-0 win over Newcastle on 5 April 2014.

Neither manager made half-time changes but Villa played with much more urgency after the break and could have levelled when Jordan Ayew pounced on an unusually wayward pass from Mata and wastefully blasted a shot high over Romero’s goal. The Argentinian goalkeeper was then forced into his first real save on 55 minutes as he impressively grasped both hands around Gabriel Agbonlahor’s powerful header.

With Villa in the ascendancy and the home fans in fine voice, Tim Sherwood intervened and sent Rudy Gestede onto the pitch in place of former Manchester City midfielder Scott Sinclair. Van Gaal also made two changes on the hour as Ander Herrera and Bastian Schweinsteiger came on for Januzaj and Carrick, perhaps with a view to regaining control of an increasingly frantic match.

Memphis could, and perhaps should, have scored his first competitive goal for the club when he was put through by another delightfully accurate Mata pass, but the Dutch forward’s first-time shot flew just wide of Guzan’s left post before Ashley Young took his place on 82 minutes to the familiar sound of boos he receives at Villa Park, his old stomping ground.

In the end, despite Villa’s late push for an equaliser, United held on to another relatively straightforward win that will boost the players' confidence ahead of Tuesday’s UEFA Champions League play-off match against Club Brugge, an occasion that is of great importance to the club this season.


Aston Villa: Guzan, Bacuna, Richards, Clark, Amavi, Veretout (Sanchez 77'), Gueye, Westwood, J.Ayew, Agbonlahor, Sinclair (Gestede 59'). Subs: Baker, Richardson, Hutton, Sanchez, Kozak, Bunn.
Booked: Ayew, Gueye

United: Romero, Darmian, Smalling, Blind, Shaw, Carrick (Schweinsteiger 60'), Schneiderlin, Mata, Januzaj (Herrera 60'), Memphis (Young 82'), Rooney: Subs: Johnstone, McNair, Chicharito, Valencia.
Booked: Herrera, Darmian

Match Reaction
Louis van Gaal: “I am very happy that we won. We started the competition with a win at home and a win away. I think the key for this season is to win more away games and I think we are capable of doing that.”

Adnan Januzaj: “It felt good to get the goal because I've not had a game for a long time and my fitness is not so good, so I'm happy to score the winner for the team. I hope to have more games and score more goals.”

Daley Blind: “It was a real team performance, especially off the ball. We created some chances and could have scored more, but we didn’t give anything away and won 1-0. Three points are the most important thing, so again I’m happy with the team."

Man of the Match: Juan Mata
That sumptuous pass to play in Januzaj for the goal was classic Mata: vision and precision. That's why he collected 50 per cent of fans' votes on Twitter, ahead of the again impressive Chris Smalling (29%) and match-winner Januzaj (21%).

Three Match Facts
1. It's now 20 games unbeaten in the league at Aston Villa. We just love visiting Villa Park!
2. United are top of the league – again. But as Juan Mata says: "At this stage it means nothing."
3. It's only the second time under Louis van Gaal that United have kept back-to-back clean sheets and won – we did it against Sunderland and Newcastle earlier in 2015.


Ashley Young @youngy18
Good team effort for the win and clean sheet. Thanks to all the fans that came, I know the traffic coming down made it a long trip!

Juan Mata @juanmata8
Coming back to Manchester with three points! Good way to celebrate your birthday @AnderHerrera

Bastian Schweinsteiger @BSchweinsteiger
Second game, second victory. Come on, Red Devils! #mufc

Matteo Darmian @DarmianOfficial
Going back to Manchester with another victory! Really appreciate a huge support of #mufc fans!!

Memphis Depay @Memphis
2 games 2 wins thanks for the support #mufc supporters. Looking forward to Tuesday!

*Taken from Manutd.com

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