MASON GREENWOOD proved he is already a finishing master rather than just a teenage apprentice as he matched fellow scorer Bruno Fernandes all the way in Manchester United’s 3-0 win.
Fernandes’ midfield partner Paul Pogba walloped the third as United reached 100 goals for the season with a fourth straight win in a ten-game unbeaten run as impressive as the stats suggest.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men are now eyeing a Champions League spot after a solid display collectively, laced with individual inspiration.
Here’s how United rated on a night that was tight and tepid until the 27th minute – from when it all went downhill for second-bottom Villa.
Rarely stretched against a Villa side high on work-rate – at least until they fell behind – but low on guile.
Did the sensible thing by hoisting the ball into touch when Shaw put him under pressure with a firm backpass.
But this was not the type a game to assess if he should stay United No1 next season, especially as he never came under aerial danger.
A subdued first-half down the right, spent far deeper than opposite full-back Shaw.
But was livelier in the second, notably on 49 minutes when darting in at the backpost to head a gaping chance when his first United goal beckoned.
Much like with De Gea, centre-back Lindelof was untested when question marks remain over his long-term future in Solskjaer’s improving side.
Scarcely needed to get out of second gear, particularly in the second period when Villa’s fight faded.
Sauntered through most of this match, increasingly untroubled once United went in front and Villa ran out of ideas early.
The midfielders in front of Maguire cut the service to the Villa front line, leaving him and Lindelof on watching brief for the second period.
United’s liveliest and most impressive defender before the interval, more a wing-back at times as he overlapped beyond his midfield.
Slightly overhit one naive backpass – but on a tougher night that would not merit even a passing mention.
And in he closing stages he was as energetic as ever, scampering in and around the left of the box.
Hit the post early on and was caught dozing in possession for Villa’s best chance – before thumping United’s match-killing third goal from 25 yards on 58 minutes.
But the French World Cup winner was given far too much space to measure that bottom-corner right-footer.
He was then caught well offside in front of Villa keeper Pepe Reina, meaning Marcus Rashford’s long-ranger was rightly disallowed.
And he flickered rather than flared into action until the second half. In fact, it seemed more like he piggy-backed onto United’s rise to total control, rather than helping to create it.
The steady cog in a United midfield embroidered by the more mercurial talents of Fernandes and Pogba.
Rarely involved in the key attacking moments but busy and effective before United had the luxury of turning on the style.
Replaced by McTominay on 69 mins.
Has that extra class, plus acceleration in thought and footwork, as well as a magnetic presence that draws big moments to him.
None more so than when his sudden drag-back on the edge of the area brought a clumsy challenge from Villa defender Ezri Konsa.
The penalty verdict was harsh, but his precise spot-kick opener showed no mercy – transforming a tricky contest into a stroll for United. That’s seven goals in ten Prem matches since his January arrival.
Rested for Fred with 19 minutes left as Solskjaer wisely kept his best men fresh.
Potentially the most exciting English finisher of the past two decades.
Slotted in smoothly out wide and always a danger cutting in on his deadly left foot. But needed no invitation and almost no backlift to smash a 25-yarder home with his right for the second United goal in first-half stoppage time.
Typifies the surge in electricity United can now produce in the final third of the pitch.
Replaced by Ighalo, the loanee he is upstaging, in the 79th minute.
Drilled a disallowed goal, and linked pacily and cleverly with Greenwood and Martial once United got in front.
Flitted all across the front line – perfect for Solskjaer’s new, mobile, counter-attacking young side.
Dangerous all night, involved in nearly all United’s best attacks as he roamed across the forward line.
A slick mix of speed, control and growing confidence, he summed up an evening where he was so unfortunate not to score by flashing a left-footer off the bar.
Rested for the final 11 minutes as Ighalo came on.
McTominay (for Matic, 69 mins) – 6. Nothing spectacular – but didn’t need to be.
Fred (for Fernandes, 71 mins) – 6. Grafted hard as he battles to prove he still has a long-term future at Old Trafford.
James (for Greenwood, 79 mins) – 6. Rarely had an opening as the game fizzled out.
Ighalo (for Martial, 79 mins) – 6. Quiet cameo for the on-loan frontman