Man Utd 0 Villa 1: Hause grabs late winner as Fernandes misses added-time pen

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Not the first time Old Trafford became a home of horrors for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s blundering band.

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And it’s safe to say that there is no doubt which Portuguese will step onto the battlefield the next time Manchester United get a penalty.

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Fernandes badly flung his line from the penalty spot as United missed a chance to equalize in extra timecredit: Reuters
Fernandes looked embarrassed after sending his extra time penalty mile over the bar

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Fernandes looked embarrassed after sending his extra time penalty mile over the barcredits: PA
Aston Villa celebrated after Courtney Hodge became late winner at Old Trafford

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Aston Villa celebrated after Courtney Hodge became late winner at Old Traffordcredit: getty
Hodge put his team 1-0 up in the final moments with a brilliant header

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Hodge put his team 1-0 up in the final moments with a brilliant headercredits: PA

Villa center back Courtney Hodge’s superb late flicked header was enough for the visitors to snatch all three points – and no more than they deserved, in fairness, either.

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Yet Bruno Fernandes made the penalty so high in the first minute of stoppage time that Peter Crouch could not reach within touching distance on a stepladder.

If only Ole hadn’t been so vocal in claiming United never got the spot kick they deserved, it probably wouldn’t have been such an embarrassing ending for them, eh?

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Mind you, it might have saved Fernandes’ face, but it certainly doesn’t for the sake of the result. United was garbage, Villa was gritty… and they also had that vital touch of glitz when it mattered.

This came courtesy of centre-back Hodge, playing only because on-loan Axel Tuanzebe could not face his parent club, with a world that was far from anything produced by the home side.

He escaped from substitute Edinson Cavani and with the most spectacular header to drive Douglas Luiz’s corner behind David de Gea.


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Only then risk moving from Villa hero to Villa, mistakenly, villain barely a minute or so later when he was the guilty side in giving United that last-gasp chance for salvation.

Of course, he had little time to get his left hand out of the way when Fernandes’ cross flew over Cavani and hit him for six yards.

But when Mike Dean pointed to the spot it was one of those where the decision was never going to end, no matter what.

So United were about to finally get out of jail, even if they did little in the last 90 minutes to deserve it. At least that’s what everyone thought at a packed Old Trafford.

Of course, the big question was who was going to take it. And with Cristiano Ronaldo swirling around, there was no dispute as to who had the most money.

Yet Fernandes himself has a penalty record that is the envy of most people. Only one miss out of 21 with United, only four out of 46 in his entire career.

So it was no surprise when he stepped up. There was nothing like the least of shock and panic when his effort cleared the bar for yards.

With this United’s hopes of saving a point ended. With that came another kick in the teeth for those who believe Ole’s men are, in fact, the real title challenger again at long last.

Forget that record run of 29 unbeaten matches away from home. Until Old Trafford becomes a fortress of old once again, they may forget it.

Their last eight Premier League defeats have all been on their respective patches. Hardly the form of champions.

And for Ole, more fuel for the fire for those who would never judge him as having the same managerial quality that has sprinkled through the sporting ranks.

United may not lack star names, but they’re not exactly a tightly-knit bunch. Or at least they weren’t against Villa anyway.

A collection of brilliant individuals, but a team? far from it. And with all due respect, if they slap their back against Villa – well, too – would you imagine them finishing ahead of City, Chelsea or Liverpool?

In all honesty it could have been worse. And it’s against a side that hasn’t won at Old Trafford since Gabby Agbonlahor’s winner here in 2009.

When fellow full back Matty Cash knocks him out with a first-half delivery of a drill, it can be hard to point his finger at Matt Targett for a blazing finish.

But it was still a gilt-edge opening, as he was rarely used to popping up with the whites of the goal in his eyes.

Ollie Watkins certainly is, though, and twice he blew it by staring at David de Gea – once after the perfect mix between United keeper and Harry Maguire.

It was a bad afternoon for Maguire, who ended up limping with a damaged left calf, the result of stretching to deny Danny Ings – and the Villa striker was offside anyway.

Luke Shaw also lasted a short minute, indicating that he could not continue before half-time was reached. Neither was the reason for United’s defeat, mind.

Although when they were something of a Suicide Squad, don’t let that deter Villa’s performance levels.

The only unjust thing about this scoreline is that Dean Smith’s men didn’t win more than most.

And with Europa League final winners Villarreal arriving on Wednesday, it won’t be the most comfortable three nights sleep for Ole…

De Gea and Maguire stand on the pitch after a wrong backpass

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De Gea and Maguire stand on the pitch after a wrong backpasscredits: PA
Man Utd had many chances but failed to get success

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Man Utd had many chances but failed to get successcredit: AP
Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw were both kicked off the pitch with injuries to Solskjaer

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Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw were both kicked off the pitch with injuries to Solskjaercredit: Reuters

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