Game #4714 

Season | 2001-02 |

Matchday | #8 |

League Game | #2 |
Premier League Match-week | #2 |

Manager Game | #164 |

Sunday, 26 August 2001

Premier League | Home | Manchester United | Villa Park | 42,632 |  

Game Summary

Manager | John Gregory | 

KO | 13.00 |
Referee | Graham Barber | 

HT Score | 1-0 |
FT Score | 1-1 |
FT Result | Drew |
Last 5 Games | WDDWD | 

Scorers | Darius Vassell | 4’ | 
Assists | Hassan Kachloul | 4’ | 

League Position | 15th | -1 |

Line Up |

GK Peter Schmeichel | 
FB Mark Delaney | 
CB Olof Mellberg | 
CB Alpay Özalan | 
LB Alan Wright | 
M George Boateng | 
M Paul Merson | 
SUB OFF | 64' |
M Hassan Kachloul | ASSIST | 4' |
M Lee Hendrie | 
F Darius Vassell |
GOAL | 4' |
CF Juan Pablo Ángel | SUB OFF | 79' |

Substitutes |

M Mustapha Hadji for M Paul Merson | 64’ | 

F Boško Balaban DEBUT | for CF Juan Pablo Ángel | 79’ |

Unused Substitutes |

GK Peter Enckelman
W David Ginola
FB Jlloyd Samuel 

Team Stats |

Starting XI Average Age | 27.69 | 

Oldest Player | GK Peter Schmeichel | 37.80 |

Youngest Player | F Darius Vassell | 21.22 |

 On this day 18 August 2001 
Croatian Forward Boško Balaban made his Villa debut aged 22 after joining from Dinamo Zagreb for a fee of £7,020,000 in July.

Match Report

The Guardian 

Monday Aug 27, 2001

Match report by David Lacey

Villa show up frailty of Ferguson defence

It looks like being a close-run thing between Manchester United balancing their books and Sir Alex Ferguson balancing their team.

 

As close perhaps as the own-goal by Alpay Ozalan in stoppage time that spared the champions defeat yesterday and deprived Aston Villa of their first Premiership win over United in five seasons.


Though United deserved a point, if only for the quality of Juan Sebastian Veron’s football, they again had to chase a game through defensive shortcomings. 
 

The fact that at this moment Ferguson sells Jaap Stam, one of the best centre-backs in Europe, suggests either that United have an exceptional replacement lined up or that the club’s plc is pressing to recoup some of the £47m spent on Veron and Ruud van Nistelrooy. 

 

Probably a bit of both, although if Stam’s replacement turns out to to be the 35-year-old Laurent Blanc, once an outstanding libero but now past his best, Old Trafford supporters may feel mammon has been better served than United’s chances of making a bigger impact in the Champions League this time than in the past two seasons. 
 

Ferguson said that the decision to let Stam go was his alone and would help fulfil the need to change elements of the team that marked time last season despite completing a championship hat-trick. Changes have been needed, but this is like trying to put on sail and change tack by chopping down the mainmast, even if he did write a book criticising his team-mates. All United’s defence did yesterday was recall why Stam had been signed in the first place. 
 

Had Aston Villa taken one of several chances they created after Darius Vassell had given them a fourth-minute lead they would probably have won, a result that would not have flattered them.
 

John Gregory’s close-season signings have given his squad greater depth and the attack has more scoring potential. Yesterday Darius Vassell, a stocky, bustling Brummie who caught the eye last season, preyed on United’s Stam-less central defence while the Colombian Juan Pablo Angel was tireless in his efforts to link the play up front. 
 

In midfield the combination of Lee Hendrie’s vision and George Boateng’s willingness to match Roy Keane, Veron and Paul Scholes physically gave Villa parity for much of the game. Scholes’s frustration showed in a nasty high tackle on Boateng 20 minutes from the end and he was fortunate to stay on the pitch. 
 

Fortunately for Villa the Dutch midfielder was able to resume and his presence became even more imperative towards the end as Veron promised to save and possibly win the game for Manchester United through his ability to pick out Van Nistelrooy through thickets of defenders or deftly switch the point of an attack with long passes from one flank to the other. 


Veron’s best ball was the lob over the heads of the Villa defenders four minutes after half- time. Van Nistelrooy was left clear but with only Peter Schmeichel to beat wafted his shot over the crossbar. 
 

Only Schmeichel? The phrase still looked a contradiction in terms yesterday as the 37-year-old Dane proved as awesome in goal for Villa as he once was for United. Schmeichel’s point-blank save to keep out a volley from Keane in the 88th minute appeared to be the crowning moment of a Villa victory until Alpay, under pressure from Ronny Johnsen as a corner from Ryan Giggs on the right swung towards the near post, inadvertently chested the ball into his own net. 
 

By that time United had reached the point of desperation. They had lost David Beckham with a groin strain and for all the efforts of Veron, Keane and Giggs - another of whose breathtaking dashes was ill rewarded six minutes before half-time when Van Nistelrooy turned his pass over the top - did not look like breaking down a Villa defence in which Mark Delaney was superb. 

Villa’s goal was inspired by Hendrie’s slick pass out to Hassan Kachloul on the right. With Gary Neville drawn out of position the Moroccan squared the ball low for Vassell to turn it past Roy Carroll, in goal for United because Fabien Barthez had a hamstring injury. 


After 36 minutes Angel beat the offside trap and when Carroll blocked his cross-shot Kachloul should have scored from the rebound. Instead Wes Brown was able to block a delayed shot to keep United alive. 


Gregory was clearly devastated at “throwing two points away in the manner we did and at the time we did it”. Ferguson raged at the fourth official when he indicated four minutes of stoppage time, insisting that it should have been 14. Considering United won the 1999 European Cup in three, this seems eccentric.