Aston Villa call halt to Manchester United’s winning run in Premier League
Radamel Falcao’s second-half header rescued a point for Manchester United as their six-match winning streak in the English Premier League ended with a fiercely contested 1-1 draw at Aston Villa.
Christian Benteke fired Villa ahead after 18 minutes with a well-placed shot from the edge of the penalty area after he evaded his marker and turned, but United levelled when Falcao headed in from a cross by former Villa forward Ashley Young.
Villa were reduced to 10 men with 25 minutes remaining after Gabriel Agbonlahor was sent off for a late tackle on Ashley Young, an incident that incensed the home fans.
Falcao’s goal was only his second for United, but he was unable to inspire a victory to extend their winning run to close the gap on leaders Chelsea and defending champions Manchester City at the top of the league.
“Very frustrating,” United manager Louis van Gaal said. “We gave two points away. We did not start well enough and because of that they could score a goal.
“We kept the ball well in the first half, but we did nothing with it. The second half was better.
“I’m disappointed also because we were the better team, and when that’s the case you have to win.”
Falcao was recalled to replace James Wilson and midfielder Darren Fletcher returned for the ill Marouane Fellaini.
Injury-hit Villa recalled defender Ron Vlaar and midfielder Fabian Delph to replace the suspended Kieran Richardson and Tom Cleverley.
United enjoyed the most possession in the opening period but, against the run of play, Delph lofted in a free kick to Benteke, who took it on his chest, evaded Jonny Evans and then curled a shot into the top corner.
United equalised in the 53rd when Falcao met Young’s cross with a thumping header.
An acrobatic volley by Robin van Persie almost gave the visitors the lead, then United received a man advantage when Agbonlahor was sent off. It appeared to be an unavoidable collision, but referee Lee Mason produced an unexpected red card and Agbonlahor was dismissed for the first time in his career.
United could not make their numerical advantage count and Villa held on for the draw.
Jores Okore cleared a Michael Carrick header and, in the final minutes, Benteke was inches away from converting Leandro Bacuna’s cross as Villa almost snatched victory.
Follow us on Twitter at @SprtNationalUAE
Published: December 21, 2014 04:00 AM