Manchester United 2-2 Aston Villa: Erik ten Hag’s side squander two-goal lead as Calum Chambers heads in last-minute equaliser

Calum Chambers headed in a last-gasp equaliser as Manchester United squandered a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 with Aston Villa.

Jadon Sancho scored his third goal of an impressive pre-season tour but after United dominated the first half, they were pegged back in the final minute.

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag described the lapse as “unacceptable” after the game, but is glad it happened in a pre-season game and not during the competitive campaign.

Sancho’s latest strike capped a fine team goal in the 25th minute before Matty Cash turned into his own net on the stroke of half-time to put United in total control amid torrential rain in Perth.

However, Aston Villa rallied in the second period following a poor first-half display as substitute Leon Bailey inspired them to a comeback with a fine solo goal four minutes after the restart.

His excellent individual performance, which saw him denied a second by a superb Harry Maguire block, paid dividends in injury time as his corner was headed in by Chambers.

The good, the bad and the ugly

Marcus Rashford and Bruno Fernandes celebrate Man Utd’s second goal against Aston Villa

Despite concerns over the pitch at the Optus Stadium following heavy rainfall in Perth, United started quickly with Maguire’s header from Luke Shaw’s corner pushed away by Emiliano Martínez.

Villa’s only chance of the half came from Cash’s low strike from 25 yards which went narrowly wide of David de Gea’s right-hand post.

United controlled proceedings as Sancho was denied by a sharp save from Martinez, although he did not have to wait long to find the net.

Jadon Sancho celebrates with Man Utd team-mates after scoring against Aston Vila
Jadon Sancho celebrates with Man Utd team-mates after scoring against Aston Vila

Diogo Dalot started the move on the right side, feeding Anthony Martial, who popped the ball off to Bruno Fernandes. The midfielder shifted it to Rashford on the left and he waited for Shaw’s overlapping run with the left-back crossing for Sancho to volley home.

Team line-ups:

Manchester United: De Gea, Dalot (Wan-Bissaka 67), Lindelof (Varane 67), Maguire (Bailly 67), Shaw (Malacia 67), Fred (Iqbal 67), Van de Beek (Garner 67), Fernandes (Telles 67), Sancho (Mejbri 67), Martial (Chong 67), Rashford (Elanga 67).

Unused subs: Heaton, Bishop, Kovar, Fish, Laird, Amad, Pellistri, Savage, Garnacho.

Aston Villa: Martinez (Olsen 46), Cash (Sanson 64), Diego Carlos (Iroegbunam 64), Mings (Konsa 46), Digne (Archer 64), J. Ramsey (Luiz 46), Kamara (Hayden 64), McGinn (Young 64), Coutinho (Buendia 46), Watkins (Chambers 64), Ings (Bailey 46).

Unused subs: Marschall, Kesler, A. Ramsey, Feeney.

Rashford, who has also looked revitalised under Ten Hag, then shot just wide before playing a key part in United’s second goal as the heavens opened. Sancho broke clear of the Villa defence and crossed for Rashford, whose off-target volley deflected in off the unfortunate Cash.

Man Utd's Diogo Dalot slides on a muddy Optus Stadium pitch against Aston Villa
Man Utd’s Diogo Dalot slides on a muddy Optus Stadium pitch against Aston Villa

Villa did not register a shot on target during the first half, which led to Steven Gerrard making five changes at half-time. It had the desired impact as Ollie Watkins curled wide before substitute Bailey capitalised on poor defending from Victor Lindelof, who backed off and allowed the winger to curl an excellent low shot into the far corner.

United nearly regained their two-goal advantage as Sancho’s cross was turned towards his own goal by Ezri Konsa but substitute Robin Olsen did well to save.

Bailey was causing problems down the United left and nearly equalised as his shot from the edge of the box deflected off Martial. Then the 24-year-old Jamaica international was released in behind the United defence, rounded De Gea but saw his shot brilliantly blocked from going in by Maguire.

Bruno Fernandes
The conditions in Perth were less than ideal

United made 10 changes with 20 minutes to play as Eric Bailly, Tyrell Malacia, Raphael Varane, Alex Telles, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Anthony Elanga, James Garner, Zidance Iqbal, Tahith Chong and Hannibal Mejri came on for Maguire, Lindelof, Shaw, Sancho, Dalot, Rashford, Donny van de Beek, Martial, Fred and Fernandes.

But their fresh legs on the torn-up pitch could not see out the victory as Bailey’s in-swinging corner was headed in by Chambers with the last touch of the match.

Leon Bailey celebrates his goal against Man Utd
Leon Bailey celebrates his goal against Man Utd

Ten Hag: A drop in focus unacceptable

While United boss Ten Hag saw positives in his side’s first-half performance, he described their dip after the break as “unacceptable” and described Villa’s comeback as a “lesson” for his players to take into the season.

“I just said in the dressing room, a drop of focus is unacceptable but to the season I’m happy because now I can tell them it cannot happen,” Ten Hag said in his post-match press conference.

“[At the start of the second half you] have to get out of the dressing room and back in your plan and your focus and back to your performance and that is what we didn’t do.

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Ten Hag: No excuses to lose two-goal lead | ‘We will learn’

“We had a lot of movement behind the defending line, scored two great goals so we were 2-0 up at half-time, and then our focus dropped.

“It can be that the guys are tired but that’s not an excuse. They have to perform and it is what we didn’t do in the second half.

“It was the focus. I don’t want to make excuses about the pitch or weather. No matter what, we have to perform.

“Football is a sport of mistakes and we have to decrease the mistakes. That’s clear, but I have seen a lot of progress in these two weeks.

“In the first half I saw really good football, really controlling and dominating the game, but we have to learn from what happened in the second half. It’s not possible that you go 2-0 and then throw it away.”

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Ten Hag was also critical of United’s lack of “control” when he spoke to MUTV: “We had to control that game [in the second half] and we gave it away. That’s no good. That’s a lesson.

“We want to play proactive football, we want to play with initiative and attacking football. That’s what we’ve done today for long periods but in the end you have to control the game and that’s what we didn’t do.”

What’s next?

Manchester United take on Atletico Madrid in their penultimate pre-season friendly on Saturday July 30 at the Ullevaal Stadium, Oslo. Kick-off is at 12.45pm.

Steven Gerrard’s Aston Villa head to France for their final pre-season match on Saturday July 30 to face Ligue 1 team Stade Rennais with a 5pm kick-off.

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