Mixed fortunes for Manchester clubs

Mixed fortunes for Manchester clubs

United lose to Villa at home, City get revenge with 1-0 win at Chelsea

Manchester United’s Paul Pogba pursues Aston Villa's Matt Targett during their Premier League match at Old Trafford on Saturday. (Reuters Photo)
Manchester United’s Paul Pogba pursues Aston Villa's Matt Targett during their Premier League match at Old Trafford on Saturday. (Reuters Photo)

Bruno Fernandes blazed a stoppage-time penalty over the crossbar as visiting Aston Villa earned a shock 1-0 victory at a below-par Manchester United in Premier League action on Saturday.

The setback came as rivals Manchester City took revenge for their Champions League final loss to Chelsea and secured a big three points with a 1-0 win at Stamford Bridge.

Kortney Hause’s 88th-minute header put Villa on course for the surprise win at Old Trafford, but the same man’s handball gifted United an opportunity to steal a point in stoppage time, only for Fernandes to dramatically miss the target.

Villa had two great opportunities to break the deadlock in the first half with fullback Matt Targett blazing over from two metres out, before Ollie Watkins was denied by a fine save from United goalkeeper David de Gea.

The home side, encouraged by a frustrated Old Trafford crowd, stepped it up late in the match, but down the other end, Hause climbed highest to stun the home fans.

Fernandes grabbed the ball and placed it on the spot ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo and looked set to snatch his side an undeserved draw, but hammered his attempt into the stands, leaving United to taste their first league defeat of the season.

In London, a deflected effort by Gabriel Jesus eight minutes into the second half separated City and Chelsea, but the visitors should have been more convincing winners as they laid down a marker after losing to Chelsea three times towards the end of last season.

The most painful of those came in Porto as Chelsea lifted the Champions League trophy to deny City the crowning glory of the club’s rise since an Abu Dhabi takeover in 2008.

Pep Guardiola was fiercely criticised for his decision to start without a natural holding midfielder when the sides last met in May.

That error was rectified with the return of Rodri and the Spaniard’s poise helped Guardiola’s men completely dominate possesion on Saturday.

However, City’s lack of a prolific goalscorer to turn that dominance into goals was again exposed.

Guardiola bemoaned on Friday that his side lack a “weapon” of the likes of Chelsea’s record signing Romelu Lukaku or United’s Ronaldo to decide games inside the box.

Instead, City have to rely on the collective of a richly assembled squad of creative midfielders as Guardiola named Kevin De Bruyne, Phil Foden, Jack Grealish and Bernardo Silva in his starting line-up.

Jesus’ strike was just the 15th Premier League goal Chelsea had conceded in 25 matches since Thomas Tuchel took charge.

There could have been plenty more but for a combination of wasteful finishing and some brilliant last-ditch defending. But the Premier League champions’ profligacy was not punished and United’s shock home defeat capped a stunning Saturday for City.

Guardiola’s side move level on 13 points with Chelsea, United and leaders Liverpool, who face Brentford later on Saturday. Villa move into seventh place with 10 points, pending the outcome of later matches.


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