Manchester United vs. Aston Villa: Final score 4-1, Red Devils halt slump

Alex Livesey

At least Manchester United have a tiny bit of momentum heading into their Champions League clash with Bayern Munich.

On a day that a banner reading "Wrong One - Moyes Out" flew over Old Trafford via a fan-rented airplane, David Moyes' boys managed to put in a decent shift, winning, 4-1. Maybe those who are extremely opposed to Moyes remaining in his post should have picked something other than a home match against Aston Villa to get their point across.

Manchester United started very slowly, looking lethargic in their movement and giving the ball away with alarming ease. They were made to pay for their mistakes in the 13th minute, when Ashley Westwood scored the game's opener on a free kick from 20 yards out. Rafael took down Gabriel Agbonlahor outside the box after an Ashley Young giveaway and was shown a yellow card for his ill-advised tackle, then was forced to watch as Westwood's free kick beat David de Gea.

That goal woke up the hosts, who were quickly level. Aston Villa somehow lost Wayne Rooney in the box and allowed him to score a free header off a chip by Shinji Kagawa, which glanced off the near post and into the back of the net.

Poor defending and a great pass by Kagawa were also the combination that set up United's second goal of the half. Kagawa played a brilliant through ball that found its way through a sea of defenders before landing at the feet of Juan Mata, who was hauled down from behind by Leandro Bacuna. A penalty was given, and Rooney stepped up to bury it.

Likely fearing that Rafael was at risk for a red card, Moyes opted to take him off at halftime, replacing him with Michael Carrick. That change moved Phil Jones out to right back.

United put the game away in the 57th minute with a goal by Mata, poked in off a scramble and a pass by Marouane Fellaini, but the real story of the second half was the struggles of Villa striker Christian Benteke. He had two golden chances before Mata's goal, failing to convert an absolute sitter in the 50th minute, then missing a free header four minutes after that. He also could have had a penalty when he went down a bit easily under a challenge by Nemanja Vidic after the goal, and whiffed again on a shot in the 78th minute when he should have hit the target easily.

Adnan Januzaj and Javier Hernandez entered the game as late substitutes and got a chance to show off their quality in stoppage time. Januzaj beat his man down the wing to get a strong cross into the back post, where Hernandez was able to finish after making one of his trademark poacher's runs to the perfect spot.

Ultimately, Villa hung with United between the boxes, but were absolutely woeful in each penalty area. It's tough to win points like that.

Manchester United: De Gea, Buttner, Vidic, Jones, Rafael (Carrick 46'), Fellaini, Fletcher, Kagawa (Januzaj 68'), Mata, Young, Rooney (Hernandez 75')

Goals: Rooney (20', penalty 45'), Mata (57'), Hernandez (90')

Aston Villa: Guzan, Bertrand, Vlaar, Clark, Bacuna, Westwood, Delph, Agbonlahor (Tonev 71'), Weimann, Albrighton (Lowton 79'), Benteke

Goals: Westwood (13')

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