By Derrick Kiplagat
Manchester United secured their second win of the new season at Villa Park on Friday evening. The win saw the Red Devils move to the top of the Premier League table, ahead of their Champions League play offs at Old Trafford on Tuesday against Club Brugge. The match ended 1-0 as Januzaj put his name on the score sheet.
Januzaj was the surprise starter in place of former Villa man Ashley Young, and his inclusion paid off in the 29th minute, after he beat Villa’s captain Micah Richards before curling the ball to the bottom left corner.
Villa rallied briefly after the break but it was United who forged the better opportunities, although they only registered two shots on target for the whole game. Januzaj has previously been linked with a move to Sunderland but shone in his preferred number 10 position, with Memphis Depay and the equally impressive Juan Mata of either flanks.
At the start, Villa looked to be in control of the match with United losing out on possession in the first minutes of the match. It took the game’s first real bit of quality, to create the first proper chance and it was United who profited, with Mata being the orchestrator, spotting Januzaj’s fine run and finding him through a blockade of Villa defenders.
This was Januzaj’s first league goal since the 4-0 win at St. James Park against Newcastle 16 months ago and could prove a significant one in terms of his future with the Red Devils.
The hosts were gifted a rare sight at goal by the composed United’s defense when Mata failed to pick out Chris Smalling with his pass and new signing Jordan Ayew pounced before rifling a right-footed over the bar.
Sensing the danger of loose balls in midfield, Van Gaal turned to midfielders Ander Herrera and Bastian Schweinsteigger at the expense of Michael Carrick and Januzaj. Soon Man United controlled the game once again.
United should have extended their lead with just 20 minutes to the 90, when Mata threaded yet another inch-perfect pass through to Memphis this time, taking the ball in his stride, the Dutchman opened himself up and took aim at Brad Guzan’s far post to miss the target by an inch.
The win puts Van Gaal’s men at the top of the log, a position they last achieved in 2013.