Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was happy with the good start to 2021 of Manchester United, but knows there is still a lot of work ahead as victory over Aston Villa saw the league runners-up draw level on points with Liverpool’s Premier League champions.
The opening goal of Anthony Martial was canceled out at an empty Old Trafford by Bertrand Traores in the second half, where the penalty of Bruno Fernandes sealed a hard-fought 2-1 win over the impressive Villa side of Dean Smith. As the victory adds to talk of a title defense, Solskja’s men close in on Liverpool with 33 points. “Of course we are very happy with the position we are in,” the United boss said. “It’s a big difference when you look back 12 months. You lose the chance to be in the first 10 games, you can lose the chance to be in the title race.Anthony Martial’s goal put Manchester United ahead at Old Trafford (Lindsey Parnaby/PA) “It’s a nice place for us now, but we have to change, we have to get better. There will be a lot of close games, but it makes a huge difference when you can win games like tonight,” said Solskjaer, who saved a David De Gea shot from Matty Cash in stoppage time before Eric Bailly made a brilliant save to stop substitute Keinan Davis. “We knew, of course, how hard it will be and we had to play well,” he added. Man Utd are level on points with Liverpool at the top of the #PL pic.twitter.com/gFi3tHWtDR- Premier League (@premierleague) January 1, 2021 ” It didn’t need to be that way. We were supposed to score because we generated some odds, particularly a few counters in the second half, and we had a chance to finish the game. “Then towards the end David made a good save, Eric did a fantastic job of blocking and we got it one way or another. “You just have to find a way to win sometimes. In the last 10 minutes, we should have handled the game better, but we got it over the line. “Villa battled to the end in an entertaining encounter but left Old Trafford without points.Bertrand Traore’s goal gave Aston Villa an equalizer at Old Trafford (Lindsey Parnaby/PA) “In the first half, I was quite disappointed with our results,” manager Smith said. “I don’t think we were anywhere near the level we usually are. I thought the two teams had begun very slowly — the first 10 minutes were almost like a test match. They picked up the pace they needed and took the lead deservedly and went with a one-goal advantage into the half-time break. “They picked up the tempo they needed and deservedly took the lead and went into the half-time break with a one-goal advantage. ” “We scored a good goal and created some really good chances as well, but unfortunately we lost to a dubious penalty. “Dean Smith thought that Manchester United should not have been given the penalty for Bruno Fernandes (Laurence Griffiths/PA) faulting Douglas Luiz on Paul Pogba led to the spot-kick of Fernandes and Smith could not comprehend why the video assistant of referee Michael Oliver did not. “I sympathize with Michael,”I sympathize with Michael. I figured that Paul Pogba was too close to Douglas Luiz and it looked like he was dragging him down when he turned around. But then it was very, very doubtful when I went into the dressing room and saw it again. It seems to me like he’s tripping over himself. If that’s the case, if there’s too much doubt, then it’s the idea of the VAR to send the referee to look at it himself, so I’m a little baffl.