Villa were competitive but leave Old Trafford with a sense of injustice after VAR and refereeing decisions went against us. An otherwise decent game will be remembered for two moments of contrasting officiating, both favouring the home side.
Overall, Villa had plenty of chances, which we should have made more of, and we must learn from the goal that was gifted to the hosts in the first half. After a first-half where there were many miss-placed passes, the second saw Villa surge forward and test our hosts resolve. We can hold our heads high, but we go out of the FA Cup prematurely and aggrieved.
This is ultimately another fixture and game of football tarred by the inept application of VAR and the officials in charge of it.
Villa were slow to start and were punished as United sensed we were still half asleep.
Fred fed a curling ball into the box that McTominay ran onto unmarked to head home. It was a poorly defended goal and all too easy for the hosts.Embed from Getty Images
There were promising moments for Villa though and plenty of chances came with it.
Watkins ran onto a loose ball before cutting back, his effort though was fired onto the crossbar from close range. It really should have been the equaliser.
Buendia, tricky throughout the half burst forward, darting between red shirts before releasing a shot-come-cross across the penalty area. Ings threw himself at the ball, but to no avail as another chance went begging.
McGinn fired a powerful drive that was saved by De Gea, whilst Ramsey saw an effort deflected wide of the United upright.
United were always a threat, with Martinez called into action on a number of occasions. Cash was also a saviour, preventing a Rashford effort from finding the net.
The half was punctuated though by recurring unforced errors and loose passes from Villa. We went in at the break rueing the opportunities spurned but also reflecting on the fact that Man Utd had been wasteful too.
VAR controversy, two disallowed goals. It was standard screaming into a pillow stuff.
Ramsey was adjudged to have fouled Cavani in the build up to Ings’ finish. It was a decision that took an age to reach, as VAR and referee Oliver seemingly rewatched the entire game to find a reason to deny the goal.
Minutes later, Villa still visibly pumped by the lengthy VAR decision, burst through again and Ings went through before flicking past De Gea with Watkins scrambling home. Ings was flagged offside for his initial run.
Frustrating doesn’t sufficiently describe the feeling, especially with the hosts getting away with repeated persistent fouls as the officials laughed, joked and patted their arses.
Cash went close, thundering a drive from outside the area that the keeper touched wide as it flew past the post.
United looked disjointed and began to take yellow cards. Watkins was next to go close, bending a low shot just past De Gea’s left hand post. The hosts brought Van De Beek on to steady the ship.
United were next to go close as Greenwood broke free, his shot was saved by Martinez, as Rashford bizarrely failed to react to the loose ball. Buendia was replaced by El Ghazi.
There was yet further contention as Konsa was felled late in the area by the already booked Shaw. Blood streaming from his face, the incident was completely disregarded by Michael Oliver.
The game petered out from here, as 6 minutes of injury time slipped through the hour glass to the full-time whistle.
Villa twice had the ball in the United goal, but both were struck off. We must reflect on the positives, which was a competitive display, but also learn to take our chances. There were opportunities to turn this game in our favour that we should’ve taken and we need to remove the unforced errors.
This is another game impacted by the hapless use of VAR, that continues to divide opinion and in this instance has created yet another dubious result. VAR is also only applied at Premier League grounds in the competition, which raises further questions around integrity in itself.
For Villa, we must move on and focus upon the Premier League. It’s unfortunately not to be our year in the FA Cup once more.
Aston Villa player ratings following the FA Cup 3rd Round tie at Old Trafford