United make stunning comeback to rescue a point

Aston Villa 2 Manchester United

Saturday 13 November 2010 17:17

Nemanja Vidic preserved Manchester United's unbeaten start to the season with a late equalizer Saturday at Aston Villa, while Gareth Bale's double against Blackburn helped Tottenham end a four-match winless streak in the Premier League.

Vidic's 85th-minute header secured a 2-2 draw for United at Villa, four minutes after Federico Macheda's powerful strike started the fightback for the 18-time champions.

United had also conceded twice in four minutes, with Ashley Young scoring from the penalty spot and Marc Albrighton netting from close range in the 76th.

"We came back well but it was too late and we shouldn't have been in that position," United manager Alex Ferguson said. "Our passing was poor. Normally we can control the match. We didn't control it."

Spurs had no such problems against Blackburn, coasting to a 4-2 victory that puts them three points behind fourth-place Manchester City, which slumped to its second successive 0-0 draw at home to Birmingham.

Bolton is a place below City, with Stuart Holden's first league goal clinching a 3-2 win at Wolverhampton.

Wolves are only being kept off the bottom by West Ham, which was held to a 0-0 draw by Blackpool. Newcastle's home match with Fulham also finished 0-0, while Wigan beat West Bromwich 1-0.

In the late match, Liverpool was at Stoke. Leader Chelsea hosts Sunderland on Sunday when Arsenal is at Everton.

At Villa Park, United was heading for its first loss there in 15 years against a Villa side shorn of nine players through injury or illness.

Ashley Young scored from the spot after he was brought down by Wes Brown. Ferguson responded by replacing Dimitar Berbatov and Javier Hernandez with Macheda and Gabriel Obertan.

But Villa went further ahead after Macheda conceded possession in the United defense. Young led the breakaway charge down the left flank and slipped the ball through to Downing, who whipped in a cross that Albrighton slid home from close range.

United, though, produced a rapid response, with Macheda reducing the deficit with a 20-meter (yard) strike after Darren Fletcher back-heeled the ball back into the Italian striker's path.

Nani then twisted and turned before picking out Vidic at the far post where the captain sent a diving header past American goalkeeper Brad Friedel.

"If someone had seen our team before the game and said 'Will you take 2-2?', we would have taken it," Villa manager Gerard Houllier said.

Tottenham hadn't won in the league for a month as it struggled to cope with campaigns at home and in the Champions League.

But Bale headed in Rafael Van der Vaart's corner in the 16th and Roman Pavlyuchenko netted four minutes before the break after missing a penalty kick.

Peter Crouch added a third in the 68th — the England striker's first league goal since May — and Bale scored his second from Alan Hutton's cross in the 75th.

But conceding late efforts from David Dunn and Gael Givet denied Spurs the chance to move into fifth, which is occupied by Bolton.

Bolton went ahead after just 45 seconds, with Wolves defender Richard Stearman heading into his own net.

Sweden striker Johan Elmander doubled Bolton's lead after dribbling through four defenders just after halftime, before Holden added a third in the 67th.

But Kevin Foley pulled one back for Wolves two minutes later and Stephen Fletcher scored another second to set up a frantic finale.

While Bolton is on the rise, Man City has won just one of its last five league matches.

James Milner came closest to breaking the deadlock for City just 15 seconds into the second half when his shot was cleared off the line by Birmingham's Stephen Carr.

West Ham, which remains rooted to the bottom of the table after a third consecutive league draw, had two penalty appeals dismissed in the first half.

Avram Grant's side first believed Pablo Barrera had been tripped by Stephen Crainey and then Craig Cathcart appeared to block Victor Obinna's shot with his arm.

Hammers striker Carlton Cole hit the post after coming off the bench.

At St. James' Park, Fulham goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer made a string of saves against Newcastle — the best preventing Andy Carroll volley from flying into the bottom corner.

The crossbar denied Fulham striker Moussa Dembele in the 70th, while defender Brede Hangeland blocked Carroll's goalbound effort in the 85th.

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