Aston Villa struck early through Leon Bailey and the second goal came moments later, from a free-kick just outside of the penalty area, when Lucas Digne curled the ball over the Reds’ wall and past David De Gea to double the advantage.
Manchester United looked to have come back into the game when Luke Shaw’s long-range missile took a big deflection off Jacob Ramsey and past Emiliano Martinez to make it 2-1, before half-time.
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But Ramsey restored the two-goal lead, getting onto the end of a Ollie Watkins run, he struck the ball in first time, with Erik ten Hag’s team failing to muster a response.
Manchester United started the game quickly when Alejandro Garnacho chased down Emiliano Martinez in the Aston Villa goal, and nearly caught him out on his line to take the advantage early but, from there, Villa stunned the Reds.
Bailey was an instant threat to the defence and picked out a great pass from Jacob Ramsey, using his pace to hold off Lisandro Martinez, and fired home with his left foot past De Gea to make it 1-0 inside just seven minutes.
The second goal soon arrived, when a misplaced Lisandro Martinez pass was picked up by Ramsey, but he was brought down close to the penalty area by Shaw, resulting in a yellow card.
Villa had three options to take the free-kick, Douglas Luiz, Emi Buendia and Digne, and it was the Frenchman Digne who stepped up and curled the ball past De Gea to double the lead.
United had a great chance after great build-up play, Christian Eriksen fed Garnacho, and his shot was saved well by Martinez. The Reds immediately came again, with Cristiano Ronaldo diving to head towards goal, but the effort was saved again by the Villa keeper.
The goal eventually came when Diogo Dalot floated a ball towards Donny van De Beek, but Villa managed to clear. Shaw picked up the ball, and went for a long-range shot, which took a major deflection off Ramsey, and the shot sailed past Emi Martinez who didn’t move.
Villa came out looking just as dangerous as they were in the first half, when Bailey skipped past Lisandro Martinez and fired straight into De Gea’s gloves.
Three minutes later, Ollie Watkins sprinted down the left-hand side, tracked by Lindelof, and his pass found Ramsey, who hit it first time right into the top corner.
United looked quite sloppy in possession, struggling to make quick passes and have a go at the Villa goal. The frustration grew when Tyrone Mings and Ronaldo had a coming together in the penalty area, with both men receiving a yellow card for the tussle.
The game had to come to a stop when substitute Anthony Elanga tried to reach a cross, but came together with Emi Martinez and had to be checked for a head injury.
United’s best chance of the second half came to Dalot. Casemiro found the Portugal right-back, who sprinted through, but he decided to pass the ball across the box instead of going for a goal, and the chance was gone when the ball fizzed past every United player and was cleared away.
The closing stages passed largely without incident, although Anthony Martial came on for his reappearance after injury.