Aston Villa's big January transfer window acquisition Philippe Coutinho paid early dividends with a goal and assist to help salvage a 2-2 draw at home against a Manchester United team that wasted a 2-0 road lead in the absence of superstar Cristiano Ronaldo.
Coutinho came into the match as a 68th minute sub with Villa trailing 2-0 and he proceeded to help Villa make an improbable comeback. The Brazilian first assisted Jacob Ramsey on Villa's first goal, and five minutes later scored the equalizer himself.
"I'm very happy to be here and to know my new teammates," Coutinho said after the match. "It was a good start. I think we had a good game. We keep believing until the end. We could win the game, but we didn't lose and we move on."
Manchester United started the match strong and deserved its 2-0 lead although it came on two gifts by Villa players. First goalkeeper Emiliano "Dibu" Martinez let a Bruno Fernandes shot go through his arms and legs. Then Villa midfielder Morgan Sanson's poor backpass led to a simple finish for Fernandes, who came away with two goals while donning the captain's armband.
Man United played without Ronaldo despite the optimism from the player and his coach prior to the match that he might be recover in time. He sat out a second straight match after missing the FA Cup clash against Aston Villa the previous Monday. "I expected [Ronaldo and Marcus Rashford] back today, but they were not available. We have to wait and see what the situation will be like for Wednesday."
The result is a modicum of revenge for Steven Gerrard's side which suffered FA Cup elimination against Manchester United five days prior. Man United (7th, 32 points) remains three points out of the all-important fourth place in the Premier League standings, while Aston Villa (13th, 23 points) remains in midtable, a comfortable 10 points above the relegation zone.
Aston Villa vs. Man United final score
MUN — Bruno Fernandes — 6th min.
MUN — Bruno Fernandes (Fred) — 67th min.
AVL — Jacob Ramsey (Philippe Coutinho) — 77th min.
AVL — Philippe Coutinho (Jacob Ramsey) — 82nd min.
(All times Eastern)
Final: Aston Villa 2, Manchester United 2
Full-time: Given the effort put forth by Aston Villa in the second half, the draw feels like a just result based on the balance of play. Steven Gerrard and Villa will be delighted by the debuts of both their new acquisitions. Lucas Digne put in a productive shift at left back and then Coutinho ignited the attack when he came on for the final 20 minutes and he showed a budding understanding with Villa rising star Jacob Ramsey.
It will be disappointment for Manchester United which will feel like it should have done more to hold on to a 2-0 lead on the road. When they needed to, the Red Devils failed to get a hold of the match and keep any sustained possession to relieve some of the pressure. Ralf Rangnick and Manchester United will come away with some positive takeaways — Rangnick called it a step forward — especially from its assertive first half. But they looked helpless as Villa upped the pressure in the second half.
🗣 "It feels like a defeat to be honest."— Football Daily (@footballdaily) January 15, 2022
Ralf Rangnick on what went wrong for Manchester United that saw Aston Villa complete a comeback pic.twitter.com/inGaz97AhD
89th min.: SUB — Manchester United brings on Donny van de Beek and Jesse Lingard for Bruno Fernandes and Mason Greenwood.
82nd min.: Coutinho equalizes! Ramsey returns the favor, serving a ball across the six-yard box and Coutinho is there to put it home. What a Villa debut for Coutinho.
79th min.: SUB — Man United's Jadon Sancho replaces Anthony Elanga for the final stretch.
77th min.: Aston Villa goal! Jacob Ramsey smashes it home after an electric combination into the box. Coutinho fed him the ball and Ramsey did the rest.
76th min.: SUB — Carney Chukwuemeka comes in for Villa's Danny Ings.
74th min.: Back-to-back looks for Villa. De Gea kicks away the first and Ollie Watkins heads the second wide on the recycled ball. Villa hasn't given up in this match.
68th min.: SUB — Coutinho comes into the match for Morgan Sanson, who just committed the costly back pass error. His reaction on moving to the bench says it all.
🇧🇷 REGRESA COUTINHO 🇧🇷— Telemundo Deportes (@TelemundoSports) January 15, 2022
👏 En medio de los aplausos, @Phil_Coutinho regresa a la @premierleague tras varios años.
😎 Podrá marcar la diferencia en el partido #AstonVilla 🟤 0-2 #MUFC 🔴
📱 EN VIVO APP Telemundo Deportes ➡️ https://t.co/sTTWcrM9o4 #LigaPremierTD pic.twitter.com/oo036e9Hr6
67th min.: Man United scores, 2-0! And it's the captain! Just as Philippe Coutinho is about to come on, Villa's Sanson gives it away and Fred feeds Bruno Fernandes who lashes it home. Villa have a real challenge on their hands.
61st min.: Back-to-back chances for Man United. First it was Elanga and then Greenwood. The youngsters are doing well, but barely missed the target on both chances. The next goal in this game is obviously big, and either team can get it.
55th min.: Lucas Digne with a run down the left and he serves up new teammate Emiliano Buendia, but the shot is right at De Gea. Then Digne gets a shot off that hits the side netting moments later. He's been active on his debut. Man United could use a spell of possession to grab a hold of the game again. It's all Villa right now.
49th min.: Another fantastic save by David De Gea. Villa's Jacob Ramsey makes a darting run in the box and takes a rip, but De Gea is on his game today. There will be more work for him yet to do.
47th min.: Big stop by Emiliano Martinez on a blast by Anthony Elanga. The Man United youngster has been positive in his first Premier League start of 2021-22.
46th min.: CAUTION — Bruno Fernandes gets a yellow card for a late tackle on Villa's Morgan Sanson.
46th min.: We're underway. Center back Kortney Hause comes on for Ezri Konsa, who picked up an injury in the closing stages of the first half. Hause scored the winner at Old Trafford in the league match in September.
Halftime: Aston Villa 0, Man United 1
Halftime: Man United wanted a convincing performance in this game and it got it for about 30 minutes of that first half. It didn't matter that Villa goalkeeper Emi Martinez gifted the Red Devils their goal — the lead was deserved. But then Aston Villa came on strong to end the half and a couple of stops by David De Gea kept the home team off the board.
Villa will continue to pour it on in the second half and there is sure to be plenty of buzz at Villa Park with the anticipated introduction of star midfielder Philippe Coutinho. We'll see how Man United reacts when faced with the adversity and pressure that is sure to come.
43rd min.: Villa test De Gea again! Lucas Digne with the shot on goal on a cross from Ings, but De Gea moves well across the net to block it. Man United is slowly losing a grip on this game.
36th min.: Chance for Villa! Buendia with a corner kick flash header on goal, but De Gea's reflexes are up to the task. Villa is upping the pressure here to end the half.
33rd min.: It's end-to-end. Man United go the other way and Greenwood gets another shot off that forces a save from Emi Martinez. Anthony Elanga can't get to the rebound. Good game to watch for the neutral.
32nd min.: On a quick transition, Villa gets its first shot on goal of the game as Ollie Watkins tests David De Gea, but it wasn't a difficult attempt to stop.
31st min.: Now it's Man United's Nemanja Matic who receives a yellow for a foul on Danny Ings. But it's a good foul, 45 yards from goal and it stops the build-up. Nothing comes of the free kick. Man United is defending comfortably.
27th min.: Lucas Digne gets his first yellow card as a Villa player for a foul on Diogo Dalot. Man United gets another shot off by Greenwood on the heels of that set piece. Another look for the visitors.
😮 LOS ‘RED DEVILS’ SIGUEN INSISTIENDO— Telemundo Deportes (@TelemundoSports) January 15, 2022
🤯 Greenwood estuvo cerca de marcar un GOLAZO, el balón pasa cerca de la portería del ‘Dibu’ #AstonVilla 🟤 0-1 #MUFC 🔴
📱 EN VIVO APP Telemundo Deportes ➡️ https://t.co/sTTWcs3KfC #LigaPremierTD pic.twitter.com/31TmWK93FY
23rd min.: Anthony Elanga goes down in the box, but the referee and VAR say it's a fair challenge in the box.
19th min.: Another good move from United. Alex Telles with the cross from the left that misses Cavani and the ball reaches Mason Greenwood, whose shot is blocked by Emi Martinez charging off his line. Cavani is hurt and trying to shake it off.
12th min.: Positive play from Anthony Elanga who got the surprise start at left wing for Man United. He leaps over Villa right back Matty Cash to get to a lofted ball in the box, but the header goes off target.
6th min.: Man United scores! And what a gaffe by Villa's Emiliano Martinez! Bruno Fernandes fires at goal and it goes through the goalkeeper's arms and then through his legs. He'll want that one back.
5th min.: Good start by Man United. The visitors are playing in Villa's end and they've won a couple of corners and a couple of set pieces by being positive. There's a confidence to the way Man United is knocking the ball around.
1st min.: We're underway at Villa Park.
12:33 p.m.: The reception that Philippe Coutinho received at Villa Park. More love in one day than he received during his time at Barcelona.
Here he is! 🤩— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) January 15, 2022
Philippe Coutinho receives a warm welcome from Villa Park! 👇 pic.twitter.com/8bYRFI8xE8
12:04 p.m.: The January signings are going to be a big story around Villa. Here's some background on the moves:
"Steven Gerrard wanted to take the age profile up a bit and wanted proven winners..." 🏆— Sky Sports News (@SkySportsNews) January 15, 2022
Aston Villa chief executive Christian Purslow explains how the Philippe Coutinho and Lucas Digne moves came about and what #AVFC want to achieve come the end of the season ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/zJfKlA1XiB
9:15 a.m.: Only one goal separated the two sides in their FA Cup third-round match at Old Trafford. This was the goal that gave the Red Devils the win:
Aston Villa vs. Man United projected lineups
Gerrard made it clear that new signings Digne and Coutinho will be available to play. Digne is starting at left back, knocking Matt Targett to the bench, where Coutinho starts his Aston Villa career.
Regular midfield starter John McGinn is suspended, with Morgan Sanson taking his place. Trezeguet and Bertrand Traore are at AFCON, and Marvelous Nakamba and Leon Bailey are out injured. Anwar El Ghazi was loaned out to Everton.
Aston Villa starting lineup (4-3-3, left to right): 1-Emiliano Martinez (GK) — 27-Lucas Digne, 5-Tyrone Mings, 4-Ezri Konsa, 2-Matty Cash — 41-Jacob Ramsey, 6-Douglas Luiz, 8-Morgan Sanson — 10-Emiliano Buendia, 20-Danny Ings, 11-Ollie Watkins
Aston Villa subs (9): 12-Jed Steer (GK), 3-Matt Targett, Kaine Kesler Hayden, 47-Tim Iroegbunam, 30-Kortney Hause, 18-Ashley Young, 33-Carney Chukwuemeka, 35-Cameron Archer, 23-Philippe Coutinho
Although Rangnick was hopeful Ronaldo would be available for the Aston Villa match, he'll sit out with the same pain that forced him to miss the FA Cup match. Marcus Rashford and Aaron Wan-Bissaka are surprise absences.
Harry Maguire , Jadon Sancho and Phil Jones are back, though suspension will keep Luke Shaw and Scott McTominay from participating. Paul Pogba is still sidelined with a thigh injury, while two players are currently away at AFCON 2022: Eric Bailly and Hannibal Mejbri .
Manchester United starting lineup (4-2-3-1, left to right): 1-David De Gea (GK) — 27-Alex Telles, 19-Raphael Varane, 2-Victor Lindelof, 20-Diogo Dalot — 31-Nemanja Matic, 17-Fred — 36-Anthony Elanga, 18-Bruno Fernandes (capt), 11-Mason Greenwood — 21-Edinson Cavani
Manchester United subs (8): 26-Dean Henderson (GK), 22-Tom Heaton (GK), 4-Phil Jones, 5-Harry Maguire, 34-Donny van de Beek, 8-Juan Mata, 14-Jesse Lingard, 25-Jadon Sancho
How to watch Aston Villa vs. Man United
- Date: Saturday, Jan. 15
- Time: 12:30 p.m. ET
- TV channel: NBC, Universo
- Streaming: fuboTV , Peacock (subscribers only)
Saturday's match between Aston Villa and Manchester United from Villa Park will be broadcast on NBC network (English) and Universo (Spanish).