Aston Villa’s FA Cup campaign ended at the first hurdle, after the Midland’s side lost 1-0 to Manchester United in a closely fought encounter at Old Trafford tonight.
Ralf Rangnick’s side started full of something that has been sadly lacking from recent performances, energy and intent, and they would be rewarded on eight minutes when Scott McTominay put them ahead. McTominay’s midfield partner Fred picked up the ball on the right hand side and fired a superb delivery into the area which the Scotland international expertly glanced past Villa ‘keeper Emi Martinez.
Another faucet of Man United’s play this season has been their defensive shakiness and that soon began to rear it’s ugly head. Firstly, Villa attacker Ollie Watkins hit just wide from close range after a flick on from a corner, before the England international then pounced on a poor touch from Victor Lindelof and hammered against the crossbar from close range.
The Red Devils almost went two up just before the break, but Marcus Rashford blew the chance to play Mason Greenwood in for a tap in at the back post, instead scuffing a tame effort that was blocked by Matty Cash.
Villa were much the better of the sides after the second-half began, and it looked like Danny Ings had drawn the scores level. However, the striker’s tap in from a free-kick was disallowed due to Jacob Ramsey’s blocking Edinson Cavani as the ball was floated into the area.
Not long after that the lively Watkins put the ball into the net after David de Gea had got a touch on a Ings strike, but once again VAR would step in and chalk off the goal, this time for offside.
Then, on what were becoming increasingly rare forays forward for Man United, Greenwood forced Martinez into a decent stop after being played through down the left by Bruno Fernandes.
Steven Gerrard’s team were by far the better of the sides over the 90 minutes and they continued to pile on the pressure right up until the final whistle, although they would be unable to carve out many more clear-cut chances and United held on to earn the right to face Middlesbrough in the fourth round.
Speaking afterward’s Villa boss Gerrard was please with his sides performance but admitted a lack of ruthlessness in front of goal cost them.
“Very tough. We are out of the FA Cup and coming into this job I saw this competition as an opportunity to have a good run in it,” Gerrard told BBC Sport.
”The lads gave a lot in terms of performance but we need to learn and close the gap from a performance that was nearly good enough. We dominated for large parts but we were not ruthless enough.
“I’ve seen enough tonight in terms of the performance to know that I can get to where I want to get to but we need to learn and learn quickly.
”We need to be more ruthless moving forward, defending crosses we need to be tighter. We cannot be having people with free headers in our six yard box. It is quite clear what we need to iron out and we will do it in the short term.”