Saturday 05 April 2014
Federico Macheda was on target on his debut to give Manchester United a dramatic Barclays Premier League victory over Aston Villa.
The teenage substitute struck in the final minute to clinch United's first League win for three matches. Macheda was not even supposed to be in the United squad as he should have been playing in Italy, but with Dimitar Berbatov injured and Wayne Rooney suspended, he was named among the substitutes.
United manager Sir Alex Ferguson had thrown the 17-year-old on with half an hour to go and with Villa just having gone 2-1 up and he said: "It was a gamble but we deserved our result because we tried to win.
"The defeat is a bitter pill to swallow because we came here and played so well"
"I told him, 'Well done.' It's important to keep his feet on the ground and he will need to handle lots of publicity over the next few days."
United had lost to Liverpool and Fulham in their previous two matches but still led the table by four points from Chelsea.
They made the perfect start against Villa when they were awarded a free-kick after Brad Friedel had picked up a backpass inside the penalty area. Ryan Giggs knocked the ball back to Cristiano Ronaldo, who drilled home his 14th Barclays Premier League goal of the season and 18th overall.
Villa were level on the half hour when John Carew headed in Gareth Barry’s right-wing cross for his 12th goal of the season and eighth in the Barclays Premier League. Gabriel Agbonlahor put the visitors ahead in the 58th minute when he headed home another Barry centre after good work by Carew.
Macheda, who had scored a hat-trick in the reserves during the week, came on almost immediately and was involved straightaway with an unsuccessful penalty appeal.
In the 80th minute Ronaldo equalised for United with a low shot from the edge of the area. Friedel denied Darren Fletcher and substitute Danny Welbeck before Macheda had his moment when he curled a superb shot into the far corner in the final minute to win it.
"I don't think we deserved to lose the match and the defeat is a bitter pill to swallow because we came here and played so well - we were absolutely brilliant," said Villa manager Martin O'Neill.
O'Neill’s side stayed fifth in the table after their visit to Old Trafford and ended the season one place lower while United retained their title, this time by four points from Liverpool.