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Match Analysis: Aston Villa 1-1 Manchester United

Sports Mole looks back at Aston Villa's 1-1 draw against Manchester United at Villa Park.

Manchester United saw their six-game winning run in the Premier League come to an end this afternoon as they were held to a 1-1 draw by 10-man Aston Villa.

The Red Devils had the better of the early possession, although it was the hosts who edged ahead on 18 minutes when Christian Benteke curled home a fine opening goal.

Radamel Falcao levelled things up shortly after the restart with a powerful header beyond Brad Guzan, but United were unable to find a winner in the remaining time to see the points shared in the West Midlands, despite Gabriel Agbonlahor being shown a red card.

Here, Sports Mole takes a look back at how the 90 minutes of action unfolded at Villa Park.

Match statistics

ASTON VILLA
Shots: 6
On target: 4
Possession: 35%
Corners: 3
Fouls: 9

MANCHESTER UNITED
Shots: 12
On target: 9
Possession: 65%
Corners: 9
Fouls: 10

Was the result fair?

In the end, a point was probably just about fair. United certainly had the better of the early possession, highlighted by the fact that Villa made just two passes in the opposition half inside the opening 10 minutes, but they were unable to make the most of their spells of dominance. Once they did manage to up the ante a little and push into more advanced positions, the Villans sprung into life and grabbed a goal against the run of play in spectacular fashion through Benteke's unstoppable effort.

Louis van Gaal's charges played some nice, intricate passing at times, with Michael Carrick once again at the heart of the majority of their moves, despite his starting position in defence. Falcao deservedly headed United level, but they were unable to capitalise on Agbonlahor's sending off to leave Villa Park - so often a happy hunting ground for them - with just a single point.

Aston Villa's performance

It is difficult to judge Villa's season to date, although what you can guarantee from the West Midlands outfit is a hard-working performance against the division's big boys. Their backline produced a solid display this afternoon to restrict United's clear-cut chances to a minimum, while also continuing to push forward themselves, even when falling a man short. Paul Lambert looked to have set his team up to restrict their opposition in the middle of the park, with Andreas Weimann dropping deep on Wayne Rooney to deny the England captain from creating openings.

The Claret and Blues outfit's biggest problem this campaign has been scoring goals, having netted the lowest tally in England's top four division's coming into today's clash - just 10. The return of Fabian Delph to the starting lineup after an 11-week absence was a huge positive, and, with him back in the side you fancy Villa to push up the table.

Manchester United's performance

The Red Devils may have come into this one on the back of six successive victories, but there were still signs that all was not quite well. Once more this afternoon problems arose across the field, but this versatile side looked promising in a 3-5-2 setup on the whole. Falcao was handed a rare starting berth, putting his injury-plagued beginning to life at Old Trafford behind him to bag his second goal in the same number of starts.

Not since early November have United trailed in a game, so it would have been encouraging for supporters to see them come out of the blocks quickly following the restart and create a couple of chances, before finally finding a way through courtesy of Falcao. Wing-back Ashley Young in particular impressed with his bursting runs, causing his former side numerous problems by setting up a goal and getting a man sent off. Still far more to come from Van Gaal's men, but the positives are certainly there to see.

Sports Mole's man of the match

Christian Benteke:

There were a few contenders for this accolade, namely Young who was marauding down the left wing from the first minute until the last, but Benteke's strike and his all-round display sees him edge out the Englishman. David de Gea may be in the form of his life right now, but he could not do anything to keep out the Belgium international's first-half curler - his first goal on home turf since March.

Biggest gaffe

Some will argue that Agbonlahor's red was a little harsh, although the forward simply should not have lunged in on ex-teammate Young. The ball had gotten away from him, yet he opted to go in full blooded and swiped at his opponent's leg, instead of pulling out of the challenge. It could have cost his side dearly.

Referee performance

Other than his decision to show Agbonlahor a red card, which will divide opinion, Lee Mason had a solid game and looked to let the game flow when he could.

What next?

Aston Villa: This was the first of five games over a two-week period for Villa, who return to action on Boxing Day with a trip to Swansea City.

Manchester United: They may have lost their recent winning run, but their unbeaten record remains intact ahead of Friday's home meeting with Newcastle United.

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Christian Benteke of Aston Villa celebrates scoring the opening goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Aston Villa and Manchester United at Villa Park on December 20, 2014
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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Chelsea97112332022
2Liverpool96302762121
3Manchester CityMan City96212041620
4West Ham UnitedWest Ham95221610617
5Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton943299015
6Tottenham HotspurSpurs9504913-415
7Manchester UnitedMan Utd94231615114
8Everton94231514114
9Leicester CityLeicester94231515014
10Arsenal94231013-314
11Wolverhampton WanderersWolves941499013
12Brentford9333119212
13Aston Villa93151315-210
14Watford93151217-510
15Crystal Palace91621114-39
16Southampton9153812-48
17Leeds UnitedLeeds9144816-87
18Burnley9045715-84
19Newcastle UnitedNewcastle90451120-94
20Norwich CityNorwich9027223-212

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