Bruno Fernandes inspired Manchester United to another impressive Premier League victory and deepened Aston Villa’s relegation worries.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side continued their impressive recent run, extending their unbeaten streak to 17 games in all competitions, and closed to within a point of fourth-placed Leicester.
They had to repel a sharp start from the hosts at Villa Park as Mahmoud Trezeguet’s low strike cannoned off the foot of the post.
The miss proved vital as the excellent Fernandes converted from the penalty spot after being tripped by Ezri Konsa, although it appeared to be a foul by the Portuguese international on the Villa defender.
United controlled the possession and tempo of the contest and doubled their advantage through teenager Mason Greenwood, who further highlighted his ruthless finishing ability by firing in his 16th of the campaign.
Paul Pogba stroked in a delightful third and Anthony Martial smashed against the crossbar, with the heavy defeat leaving Villa second bottom, four points adrift of safety with four games remaining.
Fantastic Fernandes drives Man Utd
United continue to move in the right direction and have not suffered defeat since a feeble home defeat at the hands of Burnley in January. They have not lost in 10 Premier League games – currently the longest unbeaten run in the top flight.
Midfielder Fernandes was brought in from Sporting Lisbon at the end of that month and he has completely revitalised the side from being a slow, ponderous team to one full of attacking intent and dynamism.
A clever operator in the final third, Fernandes drives the team forward with his incisive passing and it was his crafty spin on the ball which earned the penalty, although Villa will be aggrieved by the decision made by Jon Moss and supported by VAR.
Fernandes, who has contributed seven league goals, took his assist tally to six by setting up Pogba’s side-footed finish, with the Frenchman continuing to improving and looking settled in the side after a long injury lay-off.
Greenwood’s smashing 20-yard strike leaves him one short of George Best, Brian Kidd and Wayne Rooney’s joint-record of most goals in a season by a United teenager, one which will surely be beaten by the end of the campaign.
With better finishing they could have had more but Greenwood and Martial had low shots kept out by Pepe Reina, while Fernandes and Aaron Wan-Bissaka both wasted headed opportunity.
Free-scoring United’s victory means they become the first team in Premier League history to win four consecutive games by at least a three-goal margin.
Leaky Villa heading towards drop
If United are on the up, Villa are going in the opposite direction and are running out of time to avoid an immediate return to the Championship.
Dean Smith’s side have collected just two points from their past 10 games, a run that includes eight defeats, and they concede just too many goals.
The three shipped against United means they have let in 65 from 34 games, the most in the division, and have conceded two or more goals in 21 Premier League games this term.
Relegation will leave them with a big task of holding on to Jack Grealish, who has been linked with a move to United, but the captain could not conjure up any sort of threat to worry the opposition.
Had his early volley, which sailed over the crossbar, found the net or Trezeguet’s strike sneaked in, it may have been a different story but Villa have now won just one of their past 43 meetings against the Red Devils.
United goalkeeper David de Gea became United’s leading appearance maker from overseas with 399 games, surpassing the legendary Peter Schmeichel, but the Spaniard was called into action just once, a comfortable save from John McGinn’s long range drive.
Man of the match – Bruno Fernandes (Man Utd)
Spot-on Man Utd – the stats
- Manchester United are the first side in Premier League history to win four consecutive games by a margin of 3+ goals, with the last team to do so in the English top-flight being Liverpool in October 1987.
- United are the first team to beat an opponent on every day of the week in the Premier League, with this match against Aston Villa making it the sixth fixture to be played on all seven days of the week in the competition.
- Aston Villa have conceded 65 goals in the Premier League this season; the same number they had after 34 games when they were last relegated in 2015-16 and finished 20th.
- Manchester United are unbeaten in their past 21 Premier League away games against Aston Villa (W14 D7) – the longest unbeaten away run one team has had against another in English top-flight history.
- Bruno Fernandes has been directly involved in 13 goals in his first 10 Premier League games for Manchester United (seven goals, six assists); the joint-most of any player in their first 10 appearances in the competition, along with Mick Quinn (13).
- Mason Greenwood is only the second teenager to score in three consecutive Premier League appearances for Manchester United (18y 282d), following on from Wayne Rooney back in February 2005 (19y 125d).
- Greenwood is the fourth player aged 18 or younger to score in three consecutive Premier League appearances, after Danny Cadamarteri (1997), Michael Owen (1997 & 1998) and Francis Jeffers (1999).
- Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side have won 13 penalties in the Premier League this season; no team have ever won more in a single campaign in the competition (also Leicester in 2015-16 and Crystal Palace in 2004-05).
- United named the same starting XI in four consecutive Premier League games for the first time since November 2006.
Aston Villa host Crystal Palace on Sunday (kick-off 14:15 BST), while Manchester United are at home to Southampton on Monday (20:00).