Ollie Watkins of Aston Villa reacts after being shown a red card as he walks past Aston Villa manager Dean Smith during the Premier League match between Aston Villa and Manchester United at Villa Park in Birmingham, England, May 9 2021. Picture: SHAUN BOTTERILL/GETTY IMAGES
Ollie Watkins of Aston Villa reacts after being shown a red card as he walks past Aston Villa manager Dean Smith during the Premier League match between Aston Villa and Manchester United at Villa Park in Birmingham, England, May 9 2021. Picture: SHAUN BOTTERILL/GETTY IMAGES

Birmingham — Manchester United recovered to beat Aston Villa 3-1 away in the Premier League on Sunday as Bruno Fernandes, Mason Greenwood and Edinson Cavani scored in the second half to put on hold the title celebrations of champions-elect Manchester City.

The result left United second on 70 points from 34 games, 10 behind City who have played a game more and missed a chance to secure the title on Saturday after they suffered a 2-1 home defeat by Chelsea.

It also stretched United’s unbeaten away league run to 25 games but came at a cost as manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer revealed captain Harry Maguire may be ruled out of the Europa League final against Spanish side Villarreal on May 26.

“It might be a few weeks or a month, we don’t know,” Solskjaer was quoted as saying by United’s official website. “It looked like the boy [Anwar El Ghazi] landed on him and he twisted his ankle. I don’t know how serious it is. He might be available on Tuesday [against Leicester City], he might not.”

United dominated the early stages and United full back Luke Shaw forced a good save from Emiliano Martinez before Bertrand Traore fired the hosts ahead out of the blue in the 24th minute.

The Burkinabe forward took advantage of sloppy defending by the visitors, who gave the ball away several times deep in their own half before he turned Victor Lindelof and unleashed a brilliant shot into the top corner from 15m.

Fernandes equalised with a 52nd-minute penalty, coolly sending Martinez the wrong way, after a series of clumsy challenges by Douglas Luiz sent Paul Pogba tumbling.

United forward Greenwood turned the match on its head four minutes later with a neat low shot on the turn from inside the penalty area after shaking off centreback Tyrone Mings.

Substitute Edinson Cavani sealed the win with a glancing header in the 87th before Villa striker Ollie Watkins was sent off for a second yellow card after he was adjudged to have dived in United’s area.

Villa Boss Dean Smith criticised decisions by referee Chris Kavanagh to award United a penalty and to dismiss Watkins, arguing there was contact between the striker and visiting keeper Dean Henderson.

“It [the United penalty] looked a pathetic decision to me, but he goes down, similar to Old Trafford and last season here,” Smith told Sky Sports.  “Watkins got sent off for a second yellow. There is no way the referee can tell me he is convinced he hasn’t been touched. I just don’t understand the decision-making of the officials.” 

Reuters

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