Aston Villa beat Man Utd after 26 years in EPL
MANCHESTER: Gabriel Agbonlahor scored the only goal as Aston Villa beat champions Manchester United 1-0 at Old Trafford here on Saturday as the English Premier League title race took a fresh twist.
United were looking to go level on points with Chelsea after the leaders were held to a 3-3 draw by Everton earlier in the day.
But Agbonlahor, a goalscorer now against United in each of the last four seasons, was on target to clinch his club''s first Old Trafford victory since 1983 and so inflict United''s first home league defeat since losing to Liverpool in March.
In the 21st minute, Villa manager Martin O''Neill was rewarded for fielding three forwards when Agbonlahor started and finished an excellent attack, although a defensive slip-up played a key role in the goal.
Stephen Warnock found the striker who, in turn, released Ashley Young down the wing, sprinting into the box between the two central defenders to meet the resulting cross and head past Tomasz Kuszczak from six yards.
Agbonlahor had got behind United centre-back Wes Brown, and that kind of poor concentration in defence plagued United throughout the opening period.
Michael Carrick responded with a 25-yard shot which Brad Friedel parried and United striker Wayne Rooney was soon appealing for a penalty although referee Martin Atkinson correctly turned down the claim and booked the England forward for diving.
Just before the half hour, Villa should have doubled their lead when Agbonlahor dispossessed right-back Darren Fletcher and advanced past Nemanja Vidic into the area where Kuszczak did well to spread himself and save.
That could have proved a vital turning point as United sped directly down the other end of the field for Rooney to thunder a shot against the underside of the bar as he met Patrice Evra''s cross from no more than six yards.
United opened the second half full of attacking intent.
Rooney powered past three defenders and then attempted to beat Friedel with a delicate chip, which the American plucked out of the air with ease.
Villa attacks were becoming more infrequent as United began to exert control.