OLD TRAFFORD, MANCHESTER — Manchester United tightened their grip on a top-four place thanks to a 1-0 win over in-form Aston Villa on Sunday.

Unai Emery’s side had plundered eight wins and two draws from their past 10 Premier League matches, which included a 3-0 defeat of Champions League hopefuls Newcastle United, and they defeated the Red Devils 3-1 in the reverse fixture last November.

However, they failed to score in a Premier League match for the first time under the Spanish coach as Bruno Fernandes’ first-half goal sealed all three points for United at Old Trafford.

The result means Erik ten Hag’s side have a nine-point cushion on Tottenham in fifth and Villa in sixth, ahead of Spurs’ clash with Liverpool at Anfield.

💯 up for Bruno Fernandes ⚽️He’s scored his 100th career league goal 👏#PL #OptusSport pic.twitter.com/eI60vvaLKg

Man United vs Aston Villa final score

Final Man United 1 Aston Villa 0

Goals: MUN — Bruno Fernandes — 39th min

Confirmed lineups:

Man United starting XI (4-2-3-1): 1. David de Gea (GK) — 20. Diogo Dalot, 2. Victor Lindelof, 23. Luke Shaw, 12. Tyrell Malacia — 18. Casemiro, 14. Christian Eriksen (17. Fred) — 25. Jadon Sancho (21. Antony), 15. Marcel Sabitzer (5. Harry Maguire) 8. Bruno Fernandes — 10. Marcus Rashford (9. Anthony Martial)

Aston Villa starting XI (4-2-3-1): 1. Emiliano Martinez (GK) — 18. Ashley Young (16. Calum Chambers), 4. Ezri Konsa, 5. Tyrone Mings, 15. Alex Moreno (27. Lucas Digne) — 32. Leander Dendoncker (9. Bertrand Traore), 6. Douglas Luiz — 7. John McGinn, 10. Emiliano Buendia (22. John Duran), 41. Jacob Ramsey — 11. Ollie Watkins

Much of the build-up to the game was dominated by a planned protest march from United fans demanding the Glazer family agree to sell all of their shares and relinquish control of the club. The latest reports on the battle to buy United have indicated the American family may favour accepting an offer from Sir Jim Ratcliffe, which would allow them to retain a stake in the 20-time English champions. An offer from Qatari investor Sheikh Jassim is favoured among much of the fanbase.

#MUFC fans outside the director’s entrance, calling for a “full sale only”.We know who the main bidders are, and only one is offering a full takeover.This was, in effect, a long, loud protest demanding Manchester United fall under the de facto control of the state of Qatar pic.twitter.com/jiNnE4wIPN

On the pitch, United failed to capitalise on early openings for Marcus Rashford, who missed the target when through one-on-one before hitting a tame effort straight at Villa goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez.

Casemiro clattered the crossbar with a shot from Jadon Sancho’s cut-back, and the Brazilian played a key role when the opener came soon afterwards. Rashford timed his run perfectly as Casemiro headed Martinez’s goal-kick straight back towards the Villa box, and although the England man’s shot was tame, Martinez could only parry it into the path of Fernandes. United’s Portuguese star had been subjected to grief from the visiting fans and duly stood impassively in front of them in celebration after burying the loose ball.

Rashford continued to cause problems for the Villa defence with clever runs from deep, but his final touch let him down on a number of occasions as United failed to make the most of some promising openings. He was, however, unfortunate not to win a penalty after Calum Chambers stood on his heel and bundled him over in the penalty area.

Villa were unfortunate to see Ezri Konsa get in the way of a Tyrone Mings header from a corner, but, in truth, they did not create much to threaten David de Gea’s goal. That was largely due to the performances of Casemiro and centre-back Victor Lindelof, who were immense in dealing with Villa’s usually potent attack.

Things got a little nervy in the final minutes for the home fans, especially when Jhon Duran won a free-kick on the edge of the United box deep into added time, and there was palpable relief as the men in red shirts celebrated in the rain at fulltime. Both Casemiro and Luke Shaw still found time to berate Fernandes for having given the ball away in the build-up to Villa’s late opportunity, but each of them embraced their matchwinner afterwards, knowing what a significant win this could prove to be in the race for Champions League qualification.

12 + 39 – Only Manchester City (14 wins, 43 points) have more home wins and home points in the Premier League this season than Manchester United (12 wins, 39 points). Fortress. pic.twitter.com/7jnxGcXwaq

Casemiro returns to colossal best form

There had been some concerns around Casemiro’s form since he returned from a four-game domestic suspension. He was poor in the Europa League defeat to Sevilla and didn’t cope well against Spurs as United let their lead slip.

Today, he was exceptional.

Casemiro has had to play different roles in United’s midfield this season: he was often the deep-lying passmaster during Eriksen’s long absence through injury, and he has come up with some vital moments in attack, not least when he scored the opening goal in the Carabao Cup final. Against Villa, his primary task was destroyer-in-chief, and he did it close to perfection: he severed the link between Emiliano Buendia and Ollie Watkins throughout, screening the United back four with precision and purpose. In the closing minutes, when Villa managed a rare overload on the left, he sprinted across the pitch to block a Lucas Digne cross and celebrated with Diogo Dalot.

“I think that, in every season, you see no-one is always playing brilliant,” Ten Hag said about Casemiro’s supposed dip in form. “Some games, the suspension, the rhythm is broken, but today was the Casemiro we have seen all season. The organisation, the composure, the determination, the leadership is so important for us. Especially in the second half, we saw a determined team, a passionate, team.”

Battling in tough conditions 🌧️ #MUFC || #MUNAVL pic.twitter.com/eBtD14T96N

Maguire’s United career may be over: Lindelof and Fernandes have seen to that

Ten Hag stuck with Lindelof and Luke Shaw as his centre-backs today, so club captain Harry Maguire once again had to settle for a substitute role, with Fernandes given the armband for the match.

Given the performances of the two men standing in for him, Maguire is facing a huge challenge if he wants to continue his United career.

While the injured pair of Lisandro Martinez and Raphael Varane are undisputed first choice at the heart of Ten Hag’s defence, Lindelof has undoubtedly shown he deserves to be in the Dutch manager’s rebuild. His form has largely been good in recent weeks, but today, he was outstanding: he won three critical headers in the United box from teasing Villa deliveries, he made two stupendous blocks in front of his own goal, and his use of the ball in transition was on point. There’s little doubt that he is currently ahead of Maguire in the pecking order.

As for the captaincy, that seems to belong to Fernandes now. The matchwinner, like Casemiro, was a dynamo in United’s midfield, his one mistake coming in the closing momets when some careless play allowed Villa to break and win their last-minute free-kick. He got a good telling-off from Casemiro and Shaw, and embraced both of them afterwards.

“I emphasised it in London: he is so tough,” Ten Hag said of a player who is playing through an injury. “A couple of weeks ago, there was questioning about his captaincy. It’s crazy. He gives so much energy to the team. We need such players if you want to win games, if you want to win trophies.”

Ten Hag keeping fans on his side amid Glazer anger

United fans protesting against the owners, the Glazers, marched from the city centre in their hundreds with flares, banners and songs calling for change. They then stayed outside the directors’ entrance at Old Trafford for the first 18 minutes of the game, signifying the 18 years for which the Glazers have held their controversial control of the club.

15 minutes to kick-off outside the directors’ entrance to Old Trafford #MUFC pic.twitter.com/hmR7m1DaQC

This particular protest came amid reports that the Glazers could be more inclined to accept an offer from Sir Jim Ratcliffe, the owner of INEOS, which would allow the American family to retain a minority stake in the club. The majority of supporters would prefer a clean break of the kind offered by Sheikh Jassim of Qatar, who wants to buy 100 percent of the club.

Fan anger towards the Glazers is not going to dissipate even if this season ends in United winning two trophies and qualifying for the Champions League, but their support of Ten Hag’s work is clear. There is a real sense that the former Ajax boss is building something to be proud of on the pitch, despite the uncertainty off it.

“We felt really that the fans were behind us,” he said. “We have to focus to be successful because that is what the fans expect. I think there is a really strong bond between the fans and the players.”

That bond will be strengthened if United can build on this win and end the season with more success. But the ownership issue will cast a shadow over the team until the Glazers make a decision on their next move.

#MUFC fans outside the director’s entrance, calling for a “full sale only”.We know who the main bidders are, and only one is offering a full takeover.This was, in effect, a long, loud protest demanding Manchester United fall under the de facto control of the state of Qatar pic.twitter.com/jiNnE4wIPN

Man United vs Aston Villa live updates, highlights from Premier League

Fulltime: Man United 1-0 Aston Villa

It finishes 1-0 to Man United, with Bruno Fernandes’ first-half goal enough for the Red Devils. The two teams largely cancelled each other out after that, although United should really have done more with a handful of good openings in the second half, and Marcus Rashford was unfortunate not to be given a penalty. Villa had scored in every Premier League match under Unai Emery until today, but they created very little to threaten David de Gea’s goal. It’s a huge three points in the race for the Champions League for United, especially amid the context of today’s protest before kickoff.

90 + 5 mins: Luiz swings in the cross, Lindelof meets it once more, United clear the ball from their box — and that’s it! United get over the line!

90 + 4 mins: Malacia has to haul down Traore on the edge of the box and concede the free-kick. This is it for Villa…

90 + 3 mins: Casemiro sprints from one side of the pitch to the other to block an attempted Digne cross. He gets a high-five from Dalot for his efforts. He really has been outstanding today.

90 + 1 mins: We’re into added time. Can Villa create that one good chance to equalise?

84th min: Lindelof makes another telling clearance with his head from a teasing delivery. From the resulting corner, Mings’ glancing header is blocked in front of De Gea by Konsa! United are living dangerously in these closing minutes.

81st min: Extraordinary stuff in the United box — and none of it mattered anyway. Watkins runs at Lindelof and cuts the ball back, Sabitzer kicks his clearance against Shaw, blocks Duran’s follow-up attempt, and then Lindelof produces an amazing goalline clearance with his head after Duran looked certain to score. But since Watkins was offside in the first place, it’s a United free-kick.

76th min: Ten Hag has taken off Eriksen and Sancho, two of United’s best players today, for Fred and Antony. His substitutions were questioned after the draw at Spurs, so he’ll hope these changes are a little more successful.

73rd min: Casemiro whistles a shot just wide of Martinez’s right-hand post! In the build-up to that effort, Rashford seemed to be bundled to the ground inside the box by Chambers, but the officials were unmoved. Rashford required some treatment but he’s back on his feet.

70th min: It’s quite an open game now, with United unable to make the most of their attacks and Villa also being kept at bay. A big part of that is Casemiro, who has screened the back four superbly.

64th min: Two chances wasted for United. First, Rashford fails to control an excellent ball over the top from Casemiro, then Eriksen picks out Mings with a cross with two red shirts waiting in the box. Villa are making a change, which includes Young going off to a loud round of applause from the home fans.

2️⃣0️⃣ minutes to go — pushing for a second 👊#MUFC || #MUNAVL pic.twitter.com/wMLoQhCTLc

60th min: Great block from Lindelof! Villa’s best move of the match sees Watkins backheel to Ramsey, who rides Shaw’s challenge and lets fly with the shot, but Lindelof slides in to deflect it over the bar.

57th min: McGinn, frustrated at not winning a free-kick from Malacia, barges into the back of Eriksen after the ball was gone. The referee decides against booking the midfielder, which seems extremely kind — it was a needless and petulant foul.

54th min: Malacia’s low cross from the left clips the heel of Mings and just evades Rashford, who was waiting behind him. United, at the moment, look more likely to score the second goal of the game.

50th min: Malacia rather needlessly shoves over McGinn to give Villa a free-kick in a promising position close to the corner flag, but United defend their lines well.

46th min: Villa get us back underway and have an early chance, but Lindelof gets a vital touch to Young’s cross to prevent it dropping on the head of Watkins. That came from a pass from Martinez to Young, who had the freedom of the pitch ahead of him, Ten Hag gesturing at the former United man as if to ask his players how they had let him go unchallenged.

Halftime: Man United 1-0 Aston Villa

United take a one-goal lead into the break, Bruno Fernandes having scored the rebound after Emiliano Martinez saved from Marcus Rashford. He had been getting plenty of grief from the Villa fans until that point, so you’d imagine he enjoyed this…

Get in, @B_Fernandes8 🙌#MUFC || #MUNAVL pic.twitter.com/OMTUrXlEOZ

45 + 1 mins: Martinez leaps to his right to catch a Fernandes half-volley, although the contact on the strike wasn’t the cleanest and the save was fairly straightforward. That’s the last action of the first half.

39th min: GOOOAAAAAL FOR MAN UNITED! Bruno Fernandes breaks the deadlock! It’s a really poor goal from Villa’s point of view. Casemiro heads forward Martinez’s goal kick, and suddenly Rashford is running clean through. His shot isn’t great, but Martinez’s one-handed save presents the ball to Fernandes, who squeezes it over the line via a deflection. VAR checked for offside, but the goal stands!

Watch in USA:

Bruno Fernandes puts Manchester United into the lead over Aston Villa!📺: @peacock | #MUNAVL pic.twitter.com/2kKY15m6uy

36th min: Buendia slides the ball through to McGinn, but Malacia makes a brilliant sliding challenge just as the Villa midfielder prepared to pull the trigger. That was a vital tackle by the United left-back.

32nd min: Villa are enjoying a spell of possession to ease some of that earlier United pressure. The away fans are treating Old Trafford to a chorus of “There’s only one Joel Glazer”.

28th min: Off the bar! Dalot switches play to Sancho, who drives into the box and tees up Casemiro. The Brazilian’s shot beats Martinez but crashes back off the crossbar. Sabitzer then leads a quick break, but Rashford’s pass to Sancho is poor and a promising move ends in a free-kick to Villa.

25th min: Shouts for a penalty as Sancho tumbles under pressure in the box, but the officials are unmoved.

20th min: Villa finally get a shot on target through Moreno. Watkins slips from Buendia’s cross but Moreno’s shot on the follow-up is well blocked by De Gea.

15th min: United are knocking on the door, this time the ball bounces kindly for Sabitzer in the box but his half-volley sails just over the bar.

13th min: Another big chance for the England striker, this time he times his run perfectly, but when one-on-one with Martinez his low effort at the near post is well saved by the goalkeeper.

8th min: Rashford fires a shot wide after breaking clear of the Villa defence but the flag goes up for offside. An early warning sign for the visitors.

5th min: A cagey start so far with both teams even in possession. Moreno is looking lively down the left wing for Villa. Fernandes looks to be playing on the right with Sabitzer behind Rashford.

We’re underway!

10 mins from kickoff: Antony has been in fine form of late for the Red Devils but has to settle for a spot on the bench today. Ten Hag was asked to explain his decision to drop the Brazilian and Wan-Bissaka pre-match.

“We have to divide the load of the players, that’s one. But also from a tactical perspective. You have a plan, that’s why the changes,” he told MUTV.

When asked specifically on the decision to drop Antony he added: “I tried to explain it in your first question. He has played so much…we have to protect him as well, but also from a tactical point of view I think it is a good choice today.”

🗣️ #MUFC fans make their voices heard with chants of “We want Glazers out” as they march to Old Trafford. pic.twitter.com/9rWyxKbi44

35 mins from kickoff: Expect to see a few empty seats at Old Trafford at the start of this match once we get underway with United fans planning an 18-minute boycott to represent “one minute for each year the Glazers have driven the club into the ground.”

The 1958 group also plan to decorate each corner of Old Trafford with anti-Glazer flags and banners.

“This is symbolic. It’s a nod to all Reds, past, present, future and those sadly no longer with us,” a statement from the group read. “Those who have battled against this ownership from the start and those joining the fight now.

“Bring the heat, bring the noise, bring the passion. Let’s get our club back together.”

MORE: Man United for sale: Latest news, updates as Glazers consider Sheikh Jassim, Ratcliffe bids to buy club

1 hr from kickoff: The teams are in! Ten Hag makes two changes with Sabitzer and Malacia in for Antony and Wan-Bissaka. Villa are unchanged.


Your Aston Villa today. 👊 #MUNAVL pic.twitter.com/rEcV4no8D2

1 hr 15 mins from kickoff: Team news to come in 15 minutes. For now though, the pre-match focus for sections of the United fan base is taking place outside the stadium.

Earlier this week, it was reported Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s third and final bid for the club would offer the Glazer family the possibility of staying at the club through a minority stake. The message from the fans is pretty clear though.

Pretty clear message #MUFC@sn_footballclub pic.twitter.com/gCrFo3B3bx

1 hr 30 mins from kickoff: Ten Hag was frustrated to see his side surrender a 2-0 lead at Tottenham to draw on Thursday, but he has been proud of the way they have responded to different setbacks this season, not least when they beat Brighton on penalties to reach the FA Cup final after a humbling Europa League exit to Sevilla.

“Last Sunday, for example, was the perfect demonstration of the spirit and determination we have in this group,” he wrote in today’s matchday programme. “Coming so soon after the disappointment of losing in Seville, playing an important game at Wembley was never going to be easy — especially with a number of players unavailable, against a strong, in-form Brighton team who had a clear midweek to prepare — but the team came through 120 minutes and a penalty shootout to book a place in this season’s FA Cup final. Under such circumstances, that was an impressive achievement.”

Take a sneak peek inside the tunnel as the @ManUtd players celebrated getting to the #EmiratesFACup Final, brought to you by @EE ⭐️

1 hr 45 mins from kickoff: These teams have already played twice this season: Villa won 3-1 in the reverse league fixture back on November 6, and United were 4-2 winners in a Carabao Cup clash four days later at Old Trafford. Erik ten Hag says these matches proved the strength of United’s opponents today.

🔝@ManUtd’s second goal in the Carabao Cup Final officially went to @MarcusRashford!It means he finishes the competition as top scorer with six goals, having scored in every round 👏 #EFL | #CarabaoCup | #MUFC pic.twitter.com/0fXu5hfauc

2 hrs from kickoff: These teams played out a thrilling six-goal game when they last met at this ground in the Carabao Cup this season. Man United will be hoping for a similar outcome.

⚽️ @AnthonyMartial 49’⚽️ @MarcusRashford 67’⚽️ @B_Fernandes8 78’⚽️ @McTominay10 90+1’Our last home game against Aston Villa was an entertaining one 😅#MUFC || #MUNAVL

Man United vs Aston Villa lineups

Ten Hag is balancing a delicate injury situation at Old Trafford, as United prepare for a busy season run-in that includes an FA Cup final date with Manchester City.

Defensive pair Lisandro Martinez and Raphael Varane are still sidelined as Victor Lindelof and Luke Shaw retain their places after they started the draw with Spurs at centre-back. Winger Alejandro Garnacho, who signed a long-term contract extension with the club in midweek, hasn’t made the squad.

Locked in 🔏We are thrilled to announce @AGarnacho7 has committed his future to United! 🤩#MUFC

Man United starting XI (4-2-3-1): 1. David de Gea (GK) — 20. Diogo Dalot, 2. Victor Lindelof, 23. Luke Shaw, 12. Tyrell Malacia — 18. Casemiro, 14. Christian Eriksen — 25. Jadon Sancho, 15. Marcel Sabitzer 8. Bruno Fernandes — 10. Marcus Rashford

Man United subs: 31. Jack Butland (GK), 29. Aaron Wan-Bissaka, 17. Fred, 28. Facundo Pellistri, 21. Antony, 27. Wout Weghorst, 5. Harry Maguire, 9. Anthony Martial, 33. Brandon Williams

Emery has kept changes to a minimum during Villa’s impressive recent run of form, and once again he’s stuck with an unchanged XI, with Matty Cash, Leon Bailey and Philippe Coutinho all still out.

Aston Villa starting XI (4-2-3-1): 1. Emiliano Martinez (GK) — 18. Ashley Young, 4. Ezri Konsa, 5. Tyrone Mings, 15. Alex Moreno — 32. Leander Dendoncker, 6. Douglas Luiz — 7. John McGinn, 10. Emiliano Buendia, 41. Jacob Ramsey — 11. Ollie Watkins

Aston Villa subs: 25. Robin Olsen (GK), 3. Diego Carlos, 16. Calum Chambers, 27. Lucas Digne, 56. Sebastian Revan, 22. Jhon Duran, 9. Bertrand Traore, 58. Tommi O’Reilly, 72. Kadan Young

MORE: Watch every Premier League match live with fubo in Canada

Man United vs Aston Villa live stream, TV channel

Here’s how to watch all of the action from this match in some of the major territories:

TV channel Streaming USA — Peacock Canada — fubo Canada UK — — Australia — Optus Sport New Zealand Sky Sport NZ 2 Sky Sport NOW India Star Sports Select 2 Jio TV, Hotstar VIP Hong Kong 622 Now Premier League 2 now TV Malaysia Astro SuperSport 3

Astro GO, sooka

Singapore 223 Hub Premier 3 StarHub TV+

UK: This match will not be broadcast live in the UK with Sky Sports opting to select Fulham vs. Manchester City for their televised slot.

USA: This match will be televised on the Peacock network with options available in English and Spanish.

Canada: Every Premier League game this season is live streaming exclusively via fubo in Canada.

Australia: Fans in Australia can stream every match live and on demand on Optus Sport.