Man Utd 3-2 Aston Villa: Player ratings as Hojlund strikes to start Ratcliffe era with win

  • Man Utd came from two goals down to beat Aston Villa 3-2 in the first game of the Ratcliffe era
  • Alejandro Garnacho scored twice before Rasmus Hojlund finally netted his first Premier League goal
  • John McGinn and Leander Dendoncker on target for Villa
Hojlund & Garnacho led Man Utd to victory
Hojlund & Garnacho led Man Utd to victory / OLI SCARFF/GettyImages

The Sir Jim Ratcliffe era at Old Trafford got off to the perfect start as Manchester United roared to a 3-2 comeback victory over Aston Villa on Boxing Day.

United were comically poor in defence as they conceded from two set-pieces in the first half, but from that point onwards, the Red Devils were the better team and they put on a show for INEOS representative Sir Dave Brailsford, who was watching on from the stands.

Alejandro Garnacho netted twice after the break, having already seen a goal ruled out for offside, before Rasmus Hojlund netted his long-awaited first league goal late on to seal a dramatic victory.

How the game unfolded

Villa marginally had the better of the opening stages, although it was Christian Eriksen who had the first real sight of goal ten minutes in as he sent a long-range strike fizzing straight into the gloves of Emiliano Martinez.

22 minutes in, Villa took the lead in bizarre circumstances. McGinn floated in a free kick which bounced through a crowded six-yard box and straight into the back of Andre Onana's net.

The second goal came just moments later. Some shocking defending from a corner allowed Clement Lenglet a free header back across goal and Dendoncker managed to stab the ball beyond Onana to incite a chorus of boos from the home fans.

United made a lively response, with Marcus Rashford stinging Martinez's gloves twice without ever really testing the Villa stopper before the half-time break. Erik ten Hag's side were arguably the stronger side in the first half but, yet again, were paying for some moments of madness at the back.

Three minutes into the second half and United thought they had pulled one back. Garnacho slotted home but a VAR check spotted he had failed to time his run properly, despite having no real excuse for getting things wrong.

Garnacho did, however, atone for his error shortly after, staying onside to tap another Rashford cross into the back of the net.

The Argentine bagged his second 20 minutes from time as he pounced on a lose ball to fire into the back of the net, aided by a huge deflection from Diego Carlos.

Hojlund completed the comeback nine minutes from full-time. A run of 1,026 minutes without a Premier League goal was ended with a smart finish following some penalty box pinball which saw United pick up a deserved three points.

Man Utd player ratings (4-2-3-1)

Alejandro Garnacho
Garnacho was excellent / Nathan Stirk/GettyImages

GK: Andre Onana - 5/10 - Caught out once again in comical fashion. Hardly the ideal audition for the new owners.

RB: Aaron Wan-Bissaka - 6/10 - Nice and composed in possession and did a solid job of marshalling his side of the pitch.

CB: Raphael Varane - 5/10 - Seemed to actively move out of the way for Villa's second goal, which isn't ideal.

CB: Jonny Evans - 6/10 - Passed up the chance to play the ball over to Rashford despite the winger making some nice runs. Did clear off the line immediately after the equaliser.

LB: Diogo Dalot - 5/10 - Not a left-back. Looked uncomfortable trying to play on the opposite side of the pitch.

DM: Kobbie Mainoo - 7/10 - Perhaps a little safe in possession but was at least comfortable and composed. Really put himself about in defence.

DM: Christian Eriksen - 7/10 - Pinged some lovely passes around from deep positions but it was his quick, short passes with Fernandes that helped change the game.

RM: Alejandro Garnacho - 9/10 - A huge threat on his opposite wing. Looked very dangerous even before he started scoring.

AM: Bruno Fernandes - 7/10 - Fernandes did a nice job of linking up United's midfield and attack, but it was his pressing which made the biggest impact as he recovered possession for Garnacho's first goal.

LM: Marcus Rashford - 8/10 - Made some excellent runs which his teammates often looked scared of trying to find. When he eventually did get the ball, Rashford was United's biggest threat for large parts of the game and deservedly picked up an assist.

ST: Rasmus Hojlund - 6/10 - Largely anonymous and guilty of making a handful of errors but he will not care one bit and neither should anybody else.


SUB: Antony (80' for Rashford) - N/A

SUB: Scott McTominay (80' for Mainoo) - N/A

SUB: Willy Kambwala (88' for Hojlund) - N/A

SUB: Dan Gore (90' for Eriksen) - N/A

SUB: Hannibal Mejbri (90' for Garnacho) - N/A

Subs not used: Altay Bayindir (GK), Sergio Reguilon, Donny van de Beek, Facundo Pellistri


Erik ten Hag - 6/10 - A lack of organisation from set-pieces cost United in the first half but the response to going two goals behind was admirable. The Red Devils were the stronger side from that point onwards.

Aston Villa player ratings (4-2-3-1)

Leander Dendoncker
Dendoncker netted on his return to the lineup / Nathan Stirk/GettyImages

GK: Emiliano Martinez - 6/10 - Did his job pretty well without actually needing to do anything spectacular. Couldn't do much about any of the goals.

RB: Ezri Konsa - 6/10 - Surprisingly comfortable in an unnatural position but started struggling up against Rashford as the game progressed.

CB: Diego Carlos - 5/10 - Kept Hojlund in check pretty well but lost his composure in the second half as United's confidence started to grow.

CB: Clement Lenglet - 6/10 - Snuck away from United's defence with real intelligence as he bagged the assist for Dendoncker's goal.

LB: Lucas Digne - 5/10 - Didn't offer enough going forward before picking up an injury early in the second half.

DM: Leander Dendoncker - 6/10 - An improvised finish to end a perfectly executed corner routine for the second goal.

DM: Douglas Luiz - 5/10 - Largely uninspiring and failed to do anything of note once Villa succumbed to the pressure.

RM: Leon Bailey - 5/10 - Did very little apart from appearing to whisper something at Onana before the opening goal.

AM: John McGinn - 5/10 - Plenty of good fortune about his goal in a performance which was filled with energy and passion, rather than any major impact in the final third.

LM: Jacob Ramsey - 4/10 - Barely involved. Clearly yet to reach full match fitness after a spell out through injury.

ST: Ollie Watkins - 5/10 - Put himself about but didn't get the service to make an actual impact.


SUB: Alex Moreno (50' for Digne) - 6/10

SUB: Moussa Diaby (77' for Ramsey) - 5/10

SUB: Nicolo Zaniolo (77' for Bailey) - 5/10

SUB: Tim Iroegbunam (86' for Dendoncker) - N/A

SUB: Jhon Duran (86' for McGinn) - N/A

Subs not used: Sam Proctor (GK), Filip Marschall (GK), Pau Torres, Calum Chambers


Unai Emery - 4/10 - Some excellent set-piece strategies but Emery didn't have the answers for United's dominance from open play.

Player of the match: Alejandro Garnacho (Man Utd)