Aston Villa 0 Manchester United 0

By Footymad Previewer
Last updated : 22 November 2008
Manchester United's winning run at Aston Villa came to end in a bruising battle at Villa Park.

United had previously won their last 11 games at Villa but they had few opportunities to improve upon that record.

Villa boss, Martin O'Neill, had every reason to be pleased as it is the first point he has won in five games against United since taking over at Villa Park.

After conceding no less than 18 goals in the previous two seasons against United, Villa played with great resolution to demonstrate why they are enjoying such a good season and they were well worth their precious home point.

United, who had lost only once in their previous four games, had their big guns Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney on parade but on this occasion they failed to blast away the opposition.

Following their impressive confidence-boosting win at Arsenal a week ago Villa were very determined not to suffer another failure at the hands of Manchester United.

Gareth Barry, boosted by his England performance in Germany, had another outstanding game. Operating deeper than usual he was a major inspiration in this game.

Villa attacked in depth from the off but ominously ran up against a solid United rearguard which was in no mood to give anything away.

Playing with only Gabby Agbonlahor up front Villa had to rely on raids from James Milner and Ashley Young. They produced some attractive play but it was a long-range effort from stand-in full back, Nigel Reo-Coker, which forced Edwin van der Sar to make his first save of the game.

United's best reply was a sizzling long-range effort from Ronaldo. It was goalbound but Brad Friedel, making a record 166th consecutive Premier League appearance, pushed the effort around the post.

A crucial moment of the goalless first half occurred in the 38th minute when Ashley Young made a brilliant tackle on Ji-Sung Park just as the South Korean was about to shoot from close range.

The young England player provided an early second-half highlight when a casual left-footed long-range shot looped towards to the top-right hand corner of the net.

Fortunately, van der Sar had spotted the danger to fingertip the accurate shot away for a corner.

Sir Alex Ferguson, who took up his usual position pitch-side, had mixed feelings about this match but was hardly surprised by the outcome as he has praised Villa's recent emergence as one of the top six clubs in the country.

Meanwhile, O'Neill was almost tearing out his hair in the 58th minute when Nemanja Vidic became entangled with Agbonlahor in what looked to be a penalty only for the referee to wave away the protests.

Rooney then blasted aimlessly over the bar when he should really have scored. It was an awful finish and it was United's last chance to snatch victory.

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