Villa dispatched in second half as United score three


Aston Villa 2 Manchester Utd 3:This was the eighth time this season Manchester Unite have come from behind to win and are heading into a benign run of fixtures when they top the table and are through to the knockout stages of the Champions League.

The goals are flowing freely and it is easy to understand why Ferguson believes that scoring a century in the league, for the first time under his watch, is a realistic target.

United scored three times in the second half against a rejuvenated Aston Villa side despite the fact that Danny Welbeck never got off the bench and Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie were strangely subdued until the latter rattled the crossbar twice in the space of 30 seconds in the final 20 minutes.

Ferguson, however, has so many attacking options that by the time Van Persie came to life Javier Hernandez had already taken centre stage, scoring once and volleying home an equaliser via a deflection off Ron Vlaar. The winner was provided three minutes from time when Hernandez headed Van Persie’s free-kick beyond Brad Guzan in the Villa net.

The Mexican took his tally to seven in his past five matches, suggesting the United manager was spot on in the summer when he predicted “this season we’ll see a better Chicharito”.

The goals had dried up and there were times when it looked as though the demands of playing for his country in successive summers had caught up with him and taken the edge off his razor-sharp movement.

Ferguson decided to intervene, blocking Hernandez from representing Mexico at the Olympics and giving the 24-year-old an extended rest, which appears to have done the trick. Although Hernandez’s game-changing performance gave Ferguson reason to smile, it is not all good news for the United manager.

This was the eighth time this season United have conceded two or more in a game in all competitions – something that happened on only seven occasions in 57 matches across the 2007-08 campaign, when United were built on much more solid foundations. As for the 16 goals that have been conceded in the league this season, it is United’s poorest record at this stage since 2001-02.

Injuries have hardly helped, the back four have changed in 15 of United’s 17 matches this season.

But it must have been alarming for Ferguson to see Villa inflict such damage. Christian Benteke was unplayable at times, while Andreas Weimann found pockets of space to score twice to put Villa 2-0 ahead.

It was certainly a chastening day for Chris Smalling who departed battered and bruised after the outstanding Benteke gave him a torrid time.

“Christian’s not just a strong player, his technique is terrific and for someone 21 years of age, he can be anything he wants,” said Villa manager Paul Lambert.

“It was probably my fault for the first goal but we had to come out in the second half and put on a performance and luckily [Hernandez] paid off with the goals,” said Smalling. Guardian Service

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