Philippe Coutinho came off the bench to help Aston Villa earn a point against Manchester United at Villa Park, as Steven Gerrard’s side came back from 2-0 down to draw 2-2.
Bruno Fernandes had given United an apparent commanding lead with goals in each half, but Steven Gerrard’s introduction of Coutinho proved to be a masterstroke, as the Barcelona loanee assisted Jacob Ramsey’s goal before scoring himself.
Ralf Rangnick opted to abandon his preferred 4-2-2-2 formation in favor of the 4-2-3-1 shape associated with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s era, and the switch paid off almost immediately, albeit with the assistance of Villa goalkeeper Emi Martinez, who fumbled Fernandes’ speculative shot into his own net.
Martinez partially atoned for his error by blocking a Mason Greenwood effort, and after a slow start, Villa began to exert pressure on United, with David De Gea forced to make several key saves to deny Emi Buendia and debutant Lucas Digne to preserve United’s lead.
De Gea maintained his impressive form following the restart, flying down to his right to deny Jacob Ramsey as Villa built on a strong finish to the first half and making a more routine save from a Buendia strike.
After dominating the second half, Villa compounded their own problems by gift-wrapping United’s second goal. Fred capitalized on Morgan Sanson’s slack backpass, teeing up Fernandes for his second goal of the game off the underside of the crossbar.
Sanson was replaced immediately afterwards as Steven Gerrard handed Philippe Coutinho his Villa debut, and the Brazilian was instrumental in Villa’s goal, assisting the ball into the path of Ramsey, who smashed an effort beyond De Gea.
And Coutinho capped a sensational debut at Villa Park by converting Ramsey’s cross to make it 2-2, much to the delight of his new fans.
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