Aston Villa 0-0 Man Utd: Player ratings as Red Devils lose crucial ground in WSL top three race

Jamie Spencer
Man Utd couldn't find the breakthrough against Aston Villa
Man Utd couldn't find the breakthrough against Aston Villa / Jacques Feeney/GettyImages

Manchester United left the door wide open for Manchester City in the race for the WSL top three after failing to break down a resolute Aston Villa away from home on Sunday evening.

Knowing that their rivals had gone ahead in the table earlier in the day, United started at a high tempo. The electric front four tested stand-in Villa goalkeeper Sian Rogers in the first two minutes as Ella Toone hit a controlled effort on target that was well saved.

Not long after, Alessia Russo fired into the side netting from a tight angle, before Martha Thomas forced an excellent save from Rogers and Toone’s rebound was blocked on the line by Anita Asante.

Villa came into the game more as the first half progressed and Emily Gielnik tried her luck with a speculative long-range lob that Mary Earps was equal to.

Further chances fell to the visitors in the remainder of the first half, with Russo closed down by a combination of Sarah Mayling and Rachel Corsie, and Hannah Blundell narrow missing the top far corner with a dipping, curling effort.

United should have taken the lead within moments of the restart when Leah Galton fizzed the ball across the box, but Thomas couldn’t make the proper connection. Hesitation also saw the Scotland international squander another opening a few minutes later.

As Villa hung in there, struggling to create much of their own, a sprawling Rogers just got her fingertips to a bobbling Toone effort to keep it at 0-0 as the game moved into the final stages.

Well aware of the stakes, the visitors became increasingly desperate and frantic as the clock ticked towards 90. But as time ticked away, United looked less and less likely to find the breakthrough as Villa rallied to ultimately fairly comfortably hold on for a deserved point.

One final long-range strike from Katie Zelem was grasped and held by a grateful Rogers.

Aston Villa vs Man Utd player ratings - WSL

1. Aston Villa (4-3-3)

GK: Sian Rogers - 8/10 - Had a busy afternoon on her first WSL appearance in nearly two years. Several important saves preserved the clean sheet.

RB: Sarah Mayling - 7/10 - Big blocks in the first half proved vital.

CB: Rachel Corsie - 7/10 - Was still making crucial interventions in the closing stages and right at the death.

CB: Anita Asante - 8/10 - Rolled back the years with a big performance. Made blocks throughout, including a huge goal-line stop early on.

LB: Maz Pacheco - 7/10 - Held her own against Galton and was even getting forward towards the end.

CM: Ruesha Littlejohn - 7/10 - Buzzed around in midfield. Grew into the game more as time wore on.

CM: Laura Blindkilde - 6/10 - Passed the ball well when she had it but didn't see enough of it to properly impact the game going forward.

CM: Remi Allen (c) - 7/10 - Worked hard out of possession to try and contain United's talented forwards. Led by example.

RW: Alisha Lehmann - 5/10 - Too often on the fringes of the game.

ST: Emily Gielnik - 5/10 - A speculative effort in the first half was the nearest sight she had at goal with minimal service.

LW: Ramona Petzelberger - 5/10 - Thrashed at at what could have been a good chance in the second half.

SUB: Chantelle Boye-Hlorkah (67' for Lehmann) - 6/10

SUB: Shania Hayles (67' for Gielnik) - 5/10

SUB: Olivia McLoughlin (85' for Allen) N/A

2. Man Utd (4-3-3)

GK: Mary Earps - 6/10 - Largely untested.

RB: Ona Batlle - 5/10 - Got forward without ever really getting into the kind of attacking positions that she usually finds.

CB: Hayley Ladd - 6/10 - Continued at centre-back despite Diane Caldwell returning to the bench. Good on the ball.

CB: Maria Thorisdottir - 6/10 - Composed and in control defensively.

LB: Hannah Blundell - 6/10 - Did well containing the threat of Lehmann. Narrowly missed the target with what would have been a spectacular goal.

CM: Jackie Groenen - 6/10 - Plenty of energy and short, neat passes. But it wasn't enough to create the opening.

CM: Katie Zelem (c) - 5/10 - Her creativity impressed at times. But her set pieces didn't hit the usual mark and her overall impact waned.

AM: Ella Toone - 6/10 - Seemed to find space even in congested areas and had several chances. It didn't happen for her in the end.

RW: Martha Thomas - 5/10 - The game hinged on two big chances in either half she didn't take. Worked hard for the team as always.

ST: Alessia Russo - 7/10 - Involved in so much good attacking build-up but couldn't find the elusive breakthrough and was curiously hooked fairly early.

LW: Leah Galton - 5/10 - Started brightly in both halves but faded both times. Not a consistent enough threat.

SUB: Lucy Staniforth (70' for Russo) - 5/10

SUB: Vilde Boe Risa (70' for Groenen) - 5/10

For more from Jamie Spencer, follow him on Twitter and Facebook!