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Villa v Man Utd memory match: Dalian strike stuns Red Devils
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8th Nov 2012
Villa v Man Utd memory match: Dalian strike stuns Red Devils


Paper: Sunday Mercury
Headline: Dalian strike stuns United
Author: Barry Churchill

Rocket man Dalian Atkinson shot Villa to their first league win over Manchester United for three seasons at Villa Park.

Atkinson, who has a shot like an Exocet says his manager namesake, used subtlety to beat Denmark's European Championship keeper Peter Schmeichel to give Villa only their second win over United in 13 league meetings.

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Before the Premier League's biggest crowd of the season, 39,000, the excellent Steve Staunton, promoted to the midfield for this match, robbed Paul Ince as United tried to play the ball out of defence.

He immediately moved into the path of the big striker who shouldered clear Gary Pallister to slide it past the advancing Dane after just 11 minutes.

That set up a classic encounter that swung as violently as a Waqar Younis yorker.

United had Villa pegged back for long periods but, in truth, Nigel Spink celebrated his new two-year contract with a couple of punches and barely a proper save.

With England boss Graham Taylor sitting in the stand he saw his old club have a narrow escape in the first three minutes when a powerful Steve Bruce header from a Ryan Giggs corner was kept out by Ray Houghton and the post.

After Villa had taken the lead United's reply was immediate and Giggs, from the kick-off, streaked clear of the Villa defence although Shaun Teale's presence on his shoulder was enough to force the young Welshman to shoot wide.

After 24 minutes, Halesowen-born Lee Sharpe, making his first appearance of the season, headed back into the path of Giggs whose left-footed half-volley flashed over the bar with a slight deflection.

There was no let-up in the action and from the resulting corner Villa broke with Atkinson getting clear to the byline after rounding Schmeichel but his cut-back was played at full-stretch and the Dane thankfully cut out the cross.

Villa had weathered the storm and four minutes before half-time Schmeichel again had to be at his most resolute to keep out a crashing Garry Parker volley after Dean Saunders had flicked on Staunton's cross.

However, it was not until almost the hour mark that Villa won their first corner and they had to wait a further five minutes for their first clear chance of the half.

Atkinson picked up on halfway and freed Saunders but he chose to shoot rather than pass to the unmarked Atkinson hurtling in at the back post.

By now United were reduced to long-range efforts with Sharpe shooting into the arms of Spink while Villa's fast breaks continued to terrorise the United defence.

Atkinson broke down the right and reached the byline, crossing towards Saunders but Schmeichel got his fingertips to the ball and collected it at the second attempt. Schmeichel made an even better save on the 70th minute just as it looked as though Teale would score one of his rare goals for Villa.

Staunton's free-kick from the right curled wickedly to the back post where the powerful defender arrived to deliver a downward header which the Dane blocked on the line.

Villa, though, continued to pose a threat and Parker's teasing diagonal ball from the right was hit instinctively with an extravagant volley from the left-hand corner of the box by Saunders.

It would have been a spectacular goal but it almost went for a throw-in.

At the final whistle the Villa crowd went crazy to celebrate a win which boosts them up the table and extends their unbeaten run to twelve matches.

Villa have the look of championship material!

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VILLA: Spink, Barrett, Staunton, Teale, McGrath, Richardson, Houghton, Parker, Saunders, Atkinson, Small. Subs: Yorke, Bosnich, Regis.

MAN UTD: Schmeichel, Parker, Blackmore, Bruce, Ferguson, Pallister, Robson, Ince, Sharpe, Hughes, Giggs. Subs: McClair, Digby, Kanchelskis.

Genting

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