Manchester United survives Villa’s fright to reach the second round of the League Cup

Bruno Fernandes sent Manchester United into the League Cup round of 16 when the Portuguese midfielder punished a scream from Aston Villa goalkeeper Robin Olsen in Thursday’s 4-2 win.

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Erik ten Hag’s team was in danger of losing to Villa for the second time in a week after losing twice in the third round at Old Trafford.

Beaten 3-1 by Villa in the Premier League last weekend, United fell behind in Ollie Watkins’ second half.

Anthony Martial equalized but Diogo Dalot’s own goal restored Villa’s lead in the second game under new manager Unai Emery.

Marcus Rashford scored United’s second draw and Fernandes put them in the lead after Olsen’s painful pass went astray before Scott McTominay finished the win in injury time.

Ten Hag said he wanted a “reaction” after having branded United’s inert defeat at Villa Park as “not acceptable”.

The United manager granted his wish, but not before a scare from Emery’s team, who have played with more verve since the Spaniard arrived from Villarreal to replace the sacked Steven Gerrard.

“Happy with that resilience. This is what we need and we need to show every match. I was so disappointed and angry on Sunday because we didn’t fight, ”Ten Hag said.

“Our two halves are never the same. Tonight we controlled the game in the first half with good pressure, but then we did the wrong things, so we lost a lot of chances.

“At half time we said to keep the pressure but to be more direct. I’m proud of the team we managed to do it with. We are in the right direction, but we still have a long way to go.”

The League Cup remains United’s last domestic triumph in 2017 and Ten Hag would appreciate the opportunity to end that drought by the end of the year.

He will have to wait until after the World Cup for United’s next League Cup draw against Burnley, with the round of 16 scheduled just days before the final in Qatar.

Liverpool holders have received an away match to Manchester City in a high profile clash of the last 16, but both teams are likely to feature youth lineups to allow their players to rest extra after the World Cup.

Martin Dubravka was making his United debut and the former Newcastle goalkeeper was almost embarrassed when Douglas Luiz’s swinging corner was routed to the near post, where McTominay headed off the line to save the blushes. of Slovak.

– United replied –

That near miss was the highlight of an irregular first half as each team lost possession more than 60 times.

The level of entertainment increased significantly after the intermission.

Villa took the lead in the 48th minute when Jacob Ramsey’s pass caught United in a failed attempt to play offside.

Watkins sprinted behind Harry Maguire and Dalot before crossing a defensive finish line on Dubravka.

United produced the perfect response with a draw 60 seconds later.

Caught by Dalot’s pass, Fernandes went behind Villa’s unexpected defense and teamed up for Martial, who had the simple task of scoring his fourth goal this season.

Villa took the lead after 61 minutes when former United defender Ashley Young crossed to the far post, where Dalot pulled out a shoe to deflect Leon Bailey’s header into his own net.

On the day his place in England’s World Cup squad was confirmed following his resurgence this season, Rashford scored the equalizer in the 67th minute.

Rashford started the move with a header towards Christian Eriksen in the Villa area.

When the ball returned to him, Rashford showed a deft touch to avoid Tyrone Mings’ thrust and then showed his strength by holding Calum Chambers at bay before ramming his close-range goal past Olsen.

United had all the momentum at that point and Fernandes completed the comeback in the 79th minute.

Olsen’s horrendous pass went straight to Alejandro Garnacho and set Fernandes for a powerful shot that deflected Mings out.

In injury time, McTominay flew home on a precise cross from captivating substitute Garnacho.