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Man Utd boss Sir Alex Ferguson
"It was a hard fought victory"
 real 56k

Aston Villa manager John Gregory
"We ended up conceding a rather fortuitous goal"
 real 56k

Saturday, 20 January, 2001, 17:06 GMT
Man Utd kill off Villa
Ryan Giggs and Steve Stone
Ryan Giggs surges past Villa's Steve Stone
Manchester United 2-0 Aston Villa

Goals from Gary Neville and Teddy Sheringham gave Manchester United the win which puts them 14 points clear at the top of the Premiership.

United made the breakthrough after Villa had enjoyed a bright spell at the start of the second period.

Roy Keane's free-kick into the area after 57 minutes was diverted past Villa keeper David James by Gary Neville.

Sheringham wrapped up the win with his 18th goal of the season when he tapped home late on after James had palmed away a cross from substitute Andy Cole.

  Key moments
2: Solskjaer strike saved by James
11: James stops Sheringham drive
44: Man Utd penalty appeal rejected
51: Barthez denies Hendrie and Barry shot cleared off line
57: Gary Neville puts United ahead
76: Dublin miskicks a good chance
87: Sheringham grabs the second

Neville and Sheringham will have been pleased to net in front of watching England boss Sven Goran Eriksson.

Villa's record signing Juan Pablo Angel made little impression after his 9.5m move from Argentinian side River Plate and was substituted.

But the performances of James, Lee Hendrie and Gareth Barry will have impressed the new England manager.

History had favoured the runaway league leaders, who had won 12 of their last 15 Premiership games, with Villa's last win at Old Trafford back in 1983.

Eriksson's hopes of watching David Beckham were dashed before kick-off, with the England skipper missing from the United line-up.

At Old Trafford, you tend to be playing against the officials as well
  Aston Villa boss John Gregory

Despite resting Beckham, who was replaced by Jonathan Greening, the hosts had plenty of early zip.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer forced a save from James, while Barry did superbly to thwart Ole Gunnar Solskjaer with a perfectly-timed challenge as he advanced on goal.

And James, who had earlier stopped a Solskjaer effort, saved brilliantly from Sheringham after he had touched a Ryan Giggs cross to the striker.

Villa rarely found Angel, but weathered the early pressure.

Sven Goran Eriksson
Eriksson was among the spectators

The visitors survived a minor scare shortly before half-time when a handball claim against Barry in the penalty area was rejected.

Eriksson was given a taste of what might have been as he watched a fine display by United winger Giggs.

After playing for England schoolboys under the name of Ryan Wilson, Giggs opted for Wales instead.

Villa began the second-half more positively, with Paul Merson just failing to reach Dublin's ball across the the penalty area.

Hendrie looked to have sneaked the opener when he rounded Fabien Barthez, only for the French keeper to swipe the ball from his feet.

It was a hard-fought victory
  Man Utd boss Sir Alex Ferguson

Greening also had to clear a Barry shot off the line, although United responded with an attack which had James scurrying all over his area to make a series of saves.

The first goal came when Keane was fouled just outside the area, and the Republic of Ireland skipper sent in a free-kick which Gary Neville converted.

In an attempt to bounce back, Villa boss John Gregory sent on Darius Vassell - the midweek matchwinner in the FA Cup replay against Newcastle - for the ineffective Angel.

Dion Dublin miskicked when in space at the edge of the area, but the leaders continued to look the more dangerous.

With three minutes left, Sheringham sealed the win.

Man Utd: Barthez, Gary Neville, Irwin, Stam, Butt, Phil Neville, Keane, Greening, Sheringham, Solskjaer, Giggs. Subs: Van Der Gouw, Cole, Brown, Yorke, Chadwick.

Aston Villa: James, Wright, Staunton, Barry, Alpay, Stone, Boateng, Hendrie, Dublin, Angel, Merson. Subs: Ginola, Vassell, Standing, Samuel, Enckelman.

Referee: M Riley (Leeds)

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