BIRMINGHAM: Manchester United delayed fierce rival Manchester City’s coronation as Premier League champion by rallying to beat Aston Villa 3-1 on Sunday.
City would have clinched the title if second-place United lost, and that scenario was on when Bertrand Traore put Villa into the lead in the 24th minute.
United was more energized in the second half and a 52nd-minute penalty by Bruno Fernandes — his 17th goal of the campaign — was followed four minutes later by a strike by Mason Greenwood.
Substitute Edinson Cavani headed in a third goal in the 87th, and Villa had striker Ollie Watkins sent off in the 89th for picking up a second yellow card after he was adjudged to have dived.
City still needs three points from its final three games to seal a third league championship in four years under Pep Guardiola, and a fifth in 10 seasons in total.
United could, however, hand the title to City by losing either of its games on Tuesday and Thursday — against Leicester and Liverpool, respectively.
It is the 10th time United has come from behind to win in the league this season, and it left the team 10 points behind City and six points ahead of third-place Chelsea.
"It is some achievement," Greenwood said. "We don’t really want to go behind but it gives us a little boost to come back and get the win.
“We just concentrate on ourselves, we take it game by game. We want to get as many points as we can and keep the pressure on.”
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer now faces the task of juggling his United squad after being handed a tough week-long schedule as a result of the requirement to rearrange its match against Liverpool. That game was postponed last weekend because of fan protests at Old Trafford against the club’s American owners.
The rearrangement has left United facing three league games in a five-day span. Captain Harry Maguire might not be available after hobbling off with an ankle injury in the second half, with Solskjaer unsure about the extent of the problem bearing in mind United is playing in the Europa League final against Villarreal on May 26.
"Hopefully that (the final) will be with Harry Maguire. I don’t know,“ Solskjaer said. ”We’ve got to check it. It might be a few weeks, might be a couple of days — who knows. I’m not a doctor and we’ve got to check him and scan him tomorrow.”
The goal United conceded was sloppy, with Victor Lindelof failing to clear the ball as he made a tackle to stop Traore. The winger regained possession and fired an angled shot into the far corner.
Fernandes was handed the chance to equalize when Paul Pogba was tripped by Douglas Luiz in the area just as he was about to shoot. After a hop and a skip, Fernandes sent Villa goalkeeper Emi Martinez the wrong way from the penalty spot.
Greenwood’s goal came after he was fed by Aaron Wan-Bissaka and span his marker, Tyrone Mings. He got his shot off quickly, the low effort proving too strong for Martinez at his near post.
Cavani sealed victory by glancing in a header from Marcus Rashford's cross.