Dec 15, 2013, 10:21 AM EDT
BIRMINGHAM — Manchester United put on a attacking masterclass to beat Aston Villa 3-0 at Villa Park on Sunday, as David Moyes‘ offense finally sprung into life.
Danny Welbeck struck twice from close range in three first half minutes as United raced clear, then Tom Cleverley struck just after the interval to seal a deserved win for the visitors who dominated throughout.
Villa were poor, especially at the back, and were often their own worst enemy as only long-range efforts from Gabriel Agbonlahor and Marc Albrighton really troubled David De Gea on a comfortable outing for United’s defense.
With the impressive win, United move up to eighth on 25 points while Villa drop to 11th on 19 points.
Early on both Karim El Ahmadi and Albrighton stung the palms of De Gea from distance as the Villans started brightly in front of a packed home crowd.
Early on United struggled to get going in the final third and despite dominating possession in the middle third they weren’t really going anywhere with it. As for Villa, Agbonlahor looked sharp up front and his runs down the flanks caused the Red Devils plenty of problems early on.
Despite all of Villa’s early dominance, it was the away side who went ahead as Welbeck pounced to finish from close range after Adnan Januzaj‘s header from Rafael‘s superb cross had rebounded off the post in the 15th minute. That opening goal prompted ironic chants of “We are staying up” from United’s fans in reference to their teams recent struggles. But just three minutes later they were celebrating again, as Welbeck grabbed his and United’s second with another finish from close range following Antonio Valencia‘s delicious right-wing cross.
The atmosphere went flat at Villa Park after United’s quick-fire double and the lively attacking-trio of Januzaj, Welbeck and Valencia were causing all kinds of problems for Villa’s young defense.
United should have been 3-0 up inside the first half hour as first Valencia decided to square a ball instead of shooting from inside the six-yard box and then Wayne Rooney scuffed a shot wide when unmarked on the edge of the box. The relentless attacking machine of United kept churning out chances as Welbeck was played cleaned through but dragged his effort wide of Brad Guzan‘s right-hand post as United led 2-0 at the break.
After the interval the game sparked into life when Agbonlahor should-barged De Gea to win Villa a corner, then in the box some handbags ensued as both players were booked for shall we say, ‘making their feelings known.’ The home fans tried to spur their side into life but in the 52nd minute United went 3-0 up as a bad giveaway from Villa on the left flank saw United capitalize as Rooney fed a perfect through-ball into Cleverley who smashed his shot past Guzan.
Villa tried to get back into the game but despite their best efforts, a 75th minute free kick from Agbonlahor which De Gea beat away well, United held firm and dominated the second half with a confident, composed and professional display across the pitch.
A bevvy of substitutions from Untied saw Darren Fletcher and Ashley Young come on to see the game out as United enter the festive period with a resounding win under their belt and positive signs for Moyes to build on.
Aston Villa: Guzan; Lowton, Clark, Baker, Luna; Westwood, El Ahmadi (Bacuna, 85), Sylla (Weimann, 62), Albrighton; Agbonlahor, Benteke (Kozak, 78)
Manchester United: De Gea; Rafael, Jones, Evans, Evra; Valencia, Cleverley, Giggs (Fletcher, 70), Januzaj (Young, 70); Rooney (Zaha, 83), Welbeck
Goals: Welbeck (15 & 18), Cleverley (52)
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