FA Cup: Manchester United beat Aston Villa 1-0 to advance into fourth round.

An early headed goal by Scott McTom;inay proved decisiv’e for Manchester United as they held on by the skin of their teeth to be’at Ast’on Villa 1-0 in an ab’sorbing FA Cup third round tie at Old Trafford on Mond’ay.

While victory was a we’lcome relief for Un’ited m’anager Ralf Rang’nick, it was a performance that showed just how much work he has to do if United are to chall’enge for sil’verware.

Villa will wonder how they bowed of the competi’tion after respond’ing to McTom’inay’s eighth minute opener with a domi’nant display, strik’ing the woo’dwork t’wice, forcing David de Gea into several saves and havi’ng two goals disallo’wed.

McTominay glanced in Fred’s curling deliv’ery to gi’ve the hosts a flying start, but from then on they struggled to contain a lively Villa side who pl’ayed the better foo’tball.

The reward for 12-time FA Cup cham’pions United is a home d’raw against second-tier Middlesbrough.

Steven Gerrard’s Villa will get a swift chan’ce for reve’nge as they host United in the Premier League on Saturday.

The night’s big talking point was why Villa had an equa’liser ru’led out early in the second half.

John McGinn played a free kick towards Ezri Ko’nsa who head’ed across goal for Danny Ings to bundle in with his thigh.

Villa celebrated what they tho’ught was a deserved equa’liser bu’t referee Michael Oliver was imme’diately talking into his mou’thpiece to his VAR assis’tants.

With TV replays focussing on whether Ings had been o’ffside or had used his arm to score, Oliver was summoned to check a pitch-side mo’nitor a’nd, more than three minutes after the ball entered the net, ruled out the goal for an appare’nt block by Jacob Ram’sey on Edinson Cavani as the ball was played in.

“The officials took three and a half minut’es to set’tle that one. They have looked at two or three things in it,” Gerrard said. “When VAR is th’ere and th’ey make a decision you have to accept it. There is nothing you can do to cha’nge it.

“The easy way out is to blame lu’ck and the offi’cials, we won’t do that. We domin’ated for large parts but we were not ru’thless e’nough.”

There was no real argum’ent mi’nutes later when Ings was played through and his dink over De Gea was converted by Ollie ‘Watkins, but this ti’me Villa were denied by an offside decision on Ings, despite the flag not being raised initially.

In the first half Watkins bundled wide from a Tyrone Ming’s flick-on and then sma’shed a shot against the crossbar after seizing on a mistake by Victor Lindelof, one of five chan’ges to the United side from the defeat by Wolver’hampton Wander’ers.

De Gea was also forced into fine sav’es to deny John McGinn and Emiliano Buendia as Villa dominated while United were force’d to play largely on the coun’ter-attack.

Marcus Rashford wasted a chance to increase United’s lead ju’st bef’ore the break while Luke Shaw’s piledriver was tipped over by Emili’ano Mart’inez.

But the second half continued in the same ma’nner with Villa in ch’arge and United hanging on, although Rangnick’s side did rega’in some so’rt of control tow’ards the end.

“To say that this was a perfect game, nobo’dy w’ould believe that of cours’e it was not,” Rangnick said.

“We still have quite a few things we can get better at but clean sh’eet was im’portant today and we worked together.

“Still a lot of things to im’prove but it is ea’sier to do ‘that with a 1-0 w’in.”

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