Ralf Rangnick admitted Manchester United were far from perfect, despite taking a much-needed 1-0 win over Aston Villa to reach the fourth round of the FA Cup. Scott McTominay headed the lone goal after just eight minutes, but Villa was left with a host of missed opportunities and a controversial VAR review that ruled out an equalizing goal from Danny Ings in the second half. Interim manager Rangnick urgently needed a response to a week of turmoil in the United camp that followed a dismal performance by losing 1-0 at home to Wolves.
One big decision was taken out of the German’s hands as Cristiano Ronaldo was not fit to play.
But there was little improvement in performance despite holding on to a fourth round home game against Middlesbrough.
“To say this was a perfect match, no one would believe it. Of course it wasn’t,” Rangnick said.
“We still have quite a few things we can get better at, but a clean sheet was important today and we worked together. There is still a lot to improve, but it’s easier to do with a 1-0 win.”
United got the start they needed to calm the nerves when Fred’s perfect cross picked out McTominay to put power in a downward header.
However, all the shortcomings that haunted a chaotic season under two managers for the Red Devils were quickly revealed as Villa dominated the game.
“I have no complaints about what the players have given or the performance, but we are leaving frustrated because we are out of the FA Cup,” said Villa boss Steven Gerrard.
“I thought we were good enough to win the game, but we haven’t been ruthless enough.”
Ollie Watkins failed to turn a corner at the back post, Emiliano Buendia’s drive over the goal narrowly avoided Ings and David de Gea produced a stunning save to overthrow John McGinn as the visitors passed a hat-trick of chances in quick succession.
United were also without injured captain Harry Maguire and his understudy Victor Lindelof gave Villa another golden chance to equalize with a heavy touch that let Watkins in, only for his shot to fall back from the crossbar.
VAR stops Villa momentum
The home side were limited to counterattacks but could have extended their lead before half-time as Emiliano Martinez parried Edinson Cavani’s drive before Marcus Rashford’s attempt was cleared by Matty Cash.
Villa won at Old Trafford under former manager Dean Smith earlier this season but has improved significantly since Steven Gerrard took over as boss in November.
The visitors had the ball in the net twice in the second half, but were given the chance to get hold of extra time due to a lengthy VAR review.
After Ings bundled Ezri Konsa’s knockdown, VAR initially checked whether the striker was offside.
But it was referee Michael Oliver who made the final call to rule out the goal for a foul on Jacob Ramsey’s Cavani when the ball went into the penalty area.
“We had a good rhythm, played well, pushed for the equalizer and those three-and-a-half minutes took a lot of the sting out of the game,” Gerrard added.
A much easier offside call to Ings moments later, Watkins denied an equaliser.
It took another magical moment from De Gea to see United cross the line when he turned Cash’s drive wide.
(This story was not edited by DailyExpertNews staff and was generated automatically from a syndicated feed.)
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