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Premier League

  • 3 December 2011
  • • 17:30
  • • Villa Park, Birmingham
  • Referee: L. Probert
  • • Attendance: 40053

Aston Villa 0-1 Manchester United: Phil Jones' first career goal gets Red Devils back on track after League Cup exit

Aston Villa 0-1 Manchester United: Phil Jones' first career goal gets Red Devils back on track after League Cup exit

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Javier Hernandez was stretchered off within the first 10 minutes before the England starlet registered the only strike of a game dominated by Sir Alex Ferguson's visitors

Manchester United got back on track as Phil Jones scored the first goal of his young career to secure a 1-0 victory away against Aston Villa in the Premier League.

Not everything went the Red Devils' way in a muted match, however, with striker Javier Hernandez being forced off on a stretcher within the opening 10 minutes having appeared to injure his ankle.

Jones' strike came after 20 minutes, an impressive finish at the end of an athletic run into the box, where he met Nani's left-sided cross.

Sir Alex Ferguson had opted for Anders Lindegaard in goal ahead of the benched David de Gea, while Wayne Rooney lined up just behind Chicharito in attack as the visitors looked to bounce back from their midweek League Cup disappointment.

Captain Stilyan Petrov returned to the substitutes' bench for Alex McLeish’s home side, with Charles N’Zogbia left out after reportedly 'breaking a club rule'.

An early blow came for United when Hernandez went down in the box having appeared to twist his ankle nastily, immediately signalling to be withdrawn, with Antonio Valencia replacing him in a tactical reshuffle which saw Young move into a central role behind Rooney.

The visitors dominated the opening 20 minutes without finding much quality in the final third, but eventually Villa lost sight of Patrice Evra in the space in front of the back four. With all the time in the world, the Frenchman slipped Nani through down the left, who delivered a clipped cross towards Jones, who made a run into the box and struck right-footed to impressively score the first goal of his senior career.

Nani might have made it two a minute later, but the Portuguese offered a very tame header having been teed up by Valencia on the right, and Shay Given had no trouble holding it.

In a rare opportunity inside the away half, Gabriel Agbonlahor showed some threat cutting in from the left flank and jabbing a smart pass into Barry Bannan, but the Scot’s first touch saw him carry it too far wide and the chance petered out.

McLeish then reacted in apoplectic manner after the Villa defenders stood off Valencia, allowing the Ecuadorean space to hammer a 25-yard effort just over the crossbar.

More bad news for the Scottish manager arrived moments later when Given, having rushed out to scramble a clearance, was forced off with an apparent hamstring problem, necessitating the introduction of Brad Guzan for only his second Premier League appearance.

After eight minutes of injury-prompted stoppage-time were played out, United went into half-time in unchallenged control.

Bad day at the office | Given's injury summed up a disappointing evening for Villa

Ten minutes into a sedate second half, Stephen Warnock shut down a potentially-dangerous United move when he expertly slid in to rob Rooney on the edge of the area.

There followed yet another sudden injury when Jermaine Jenas, only making his first start for Villa since arriving from Tottenham in the summer, appeared to trip over something in the pitch and was also stretchered off.

His replacement, Emile Heskey, seemed to give the hosts another option going forward, being targeted immediately from a corner. The ex-England striker was found at the far post after Richard Dunne flicked a header on but he nodded high to waste a decent chance.

Young responded for the visitors by cutting inside from the left wing and slicing a long-range effort low and just wide of Guzan’s near post.

With 15 minutes remaining, Villa finally forced Lindegaard to make a save, with James Collins heading powerfully towards the top corner from a corner only to be denied by the leaping Dane.

Late substitute Danny Welbeck nearly lit up the turgid second half as he beat three home defenders in a skilful, weaving run into the penalty area. Unfortunately for the Manchester United striker, though, he could not quite skip past the final man at the post and lost the ball.

Rooney then had a chance to finish the game as he careered forward on the break and bore down on the Villa area, but he opted to pass into the path of Welbeck, who put the ball in the net but was comfortably offside.

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