Manchester United might have spilt two points and an opportunity to move closer to leaders Chelsea but they showed why they are a champion side after coming back from 2 goals down to salvage a point against Aston Villa.
United, facing injury problems for the game at Villa Park, replaced the injured Rafael with Wes Brown at right back and Hernandez started in place of the suspended Scholes. But this was nothing compared to Villa’s problems as 10 regular first teamers were unavailable due to injury or illness and Houlier was forced to call players from his youth team, and they didn’t disappoint.
After a pretty dull first quarter of the first half, the Red Devils almost got the lead after Berbatov beat the offside trap to receive Hernandez’s pass but his shot just went wide. Chances came and went as Carrick and Brown missed half chances. Villa’s first real chance came on the half hour mark when Agbonlahor’s header forced a smart save by Van Der Sar and then Downing’s goalbound shot was deflected for a corner.
Villa’s youngsters, after a good showing in the first half, started the second on a confident note. Marc Albrighton should have put the home team ahead as his header of Ashley Young’s cross went inches wide. Villa then shifted gears and ran rampant as Collins and Agbonlahor hit the woodwork in the space of two minutes.
And then there was the goal fest! Young was brought down in the box in the 72nd minute and he coolly slotted home the penalty. Three minutes later Albrighton headed home a Downing cross to double Villa’s lead. It was desperation time for United and Ferguson replaced his strikers with Macheda and Obertan thus injecting fresh blood into the attack. Macheda’s shot from the edge of the box found the top corner in the 81st minute giving some hope to the visitors. United, no stranger to late goals, continued to attack and pegged level on 85 minutes as Nani’s cross from the left was met by Vidic’s diving header sparking off wild celebrations.
The result meant that United stretched their unbeaten streak to 26 games in all competitions but the record disguises another disappointing result – their 7th draw of the season.