Aston Villa 2 Manchester United 2
BIRMINGHAM // Manchester United's under-performing players were left in no doubt about manager Sir Alex Ferguson's disappointment yesterday, despite a rousing late comeback to save a point in a 2-2 draw against injury-ravaged Aston Villa.
The home side, without nine senior players, looked set for their first home win over United for 15 years after goals from Ashley Young, from the penalty spot, and Marc Albrighton.
But United rallied in the final 15 minutes and goals from substitute Federico Macheda and Nemanja Vidic rescued a point.
"Our passing was poor. Normally we can control the match. We didn't control it," Ferguson said. "We are a club though that never says there is no way back. We brought people on [Macheda and Gabriel Obertan], and they changed the game, in fairness to them.
"There was a great life and adventure about them. Macheda scored a great goal and with another five minutes we would have won the game."
Ferguson brought off strikers Dimitar Berbatov and Javier Hernandez when making his double change but he admitted: "I could have taken any of 10 players off because we didn't perform well. We came back well but it was too late and we shouldn't have been in that position. I expected us to do better in terms of our play."
Ferguson was full of praise for Villa. "You've got to give credit to Villa for their battling qualities. They were enthusiastic and made it a very difficult day for us. They deserved the result. They tackled everything. A lot of the tackles were unfair but the referee [Mike Dean] allowed them to go."
Gerard Houllier, Villa's manager, had mixed feelings about the outcome of the game after seeing his side surrender their two-goal advantage.
"I was very proud of the performance but the mood in the dressing room was disappointment because the players felt they had enough chances to win the game.
"In the second half we took the game to them, had the chances to win it, hit the bar and post.
"But we were playing Manchester United who never give up. We should have won but we could have lost, and they are a quality side. If someone had seen our team before the game and said 'will you take 2-2?', we would have taken it."
Man of the match: Stewart Downing (Aston Villa)
* Press Association