Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 20 April 2014

Jones off the mark for United

Phil Jones

Phil Jones scored his first goal for Manchester United as they regained second spot in the Barclays Premier League with a 1-0 victory at Aston Villa.

Jones struck after 20 minutes as United extended their unbeaten league run at Villa Park to 16 years.

Sir Alex Ferguson's side climbed back above Tottenham, who had briefly gone second with their win earlier on Saturday, and remained five points adrift of Manchester City after dominating for long periods.

The down side for the Red Devils was the early loss of striker Javier Hernandez with a serious-looking ankle injury, though they overcame his absence with relative ease. Villa, meanwhile, confirmed winger Charles N'Zogbia had been left out of their match plans for an undisclosed breach of club discipline.

United suffered an early setback when Hernandez appeared to twist his ankle when it became caught in the Villa Park surface after turning sharply. There was a lengthy delay while Hernandez received treatment but he was unable to continue and was stretchered off and replaced by Antonio Valencia.

It came as no surprise when Jones put United ahead with a clinical finish after 20 minutes. Patrice Evra released the overlapping Nani and his cross was met by Jones who volleyed past Given from close range.

Villa could not get a foothold in the game and it needed a fine save from Shay Given to prevent United doubling their lead. Ashley Young provided the probing cross from the right of the area and Nani's powerful header was turned aside by the Republic of Ireland keeper.

The second period began in the same vein as the opening 45 minutes with United dominating proceedings. Wayne Rooney tried his luck from 25 yards out and his shot skidded just past the post.

Villa substitute Emile Heskey almost made an instant impact as he headed wide at the far post after Richard Dunne had flicked on a corner from Barry Bannan. But Villa were at last showing some menace with Anders Lindegaard turning over a James Collins header from a Dunne centre.

Young curled a shot straight at substitue goalkeeper Brad Guzan after good play by Ryan Giggs but could not score against his former team-mates before being substituted after 78 minutes. Substitute Danny Welbeck had the ball in the net for United in the 90th minute but had strayed offside.