Aston Villa manager Unai Emery would not be drawn on how much damage his side’s defeat to Manchester United could do after Scott McTominay’s 86th-minute winner gave the Red Devils a 2-1 win at Villa Park on Sunday.
Victory would have moved Emery’s side would 11 points clear of United and cemented their place in the Uefa Champions League qualification places, while even a draw would have allowed them to leapfrog fourth-placed Tottenham as part of an impressive season under the Spaniard.
After falling behind to Rasmus Hojlund’s opener, the Villans equalised through Douglas Luiz’s second-half strike and threatened more goals before succumbing to a third defeat in four in all competitions as part of a run of one win in six.
“I can’t repeat myself when you are asking me the same [question] every time,” Emery told Sky Sports when he was asked how severe the setback was.
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“Controlling the game and trying to avoid transitions were our first responsibilities, and we did that. We did everything we wanted to do.”
In his 100th Premier League game as a manager. Emery was animated on the sideline before McTominay’s decisive header, appearing to urge his players to seize the initiative and push for victory.
Aston Villa vs Man United: Emery ‘proud’
Ollie Watkins should have scored shortly after the interval with Villa’s best chance, only to fire a shot straight at United goalkeeper Andre Onana from close range.
Villa had 23 of the 40 attempts at goal and their 10 efforts on target were twice as many as United produced.
But having won their first eight home league matches of 2023/24, Villa have now failed to win three of their last four.
They go to Fulham on Saturday before the visit of Nottingham Forest, a trip to Luton Town and a home match against Spurs.
“We didn’t score from some clear chances but I am very proud of our work and the players,” said Emery. “We deserved to score more.”