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Saturday, 26 October, 2002, 15:57 GMT 16:57 UK
Villa hold Man Utd
Manchester striker Diego Forlan is mobbed by his team-mates after equalising
Forlan celebrates his first Premiership goal in style
Man Utd 1-1 Aston Villa

Diego Forlan's first Premiership goal rescued a point for Manchester United against Aston Villa.

The misfiring Uruguyuan striker finally found his range from open play with a well-taken header 13 minutes from time.

Olof Mellberg had given Villa a first-half lead and Graham Taylor's side seemed set to secure their first away win of the season.

But United hit back after the break and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer could have snatched all three points for the hosts, only to see Peter Enckelman pull off a superb save late on.

  Key incidents
35 mins: Olof Mellberg heads in Villa's opener
77 mins: Diego Forlan equalises for Man Utd

Villa boss Taylor will take heart from the performance, while Sir Alex Ferguson will be left contemplating yet more ground lost to leaders Liverpool, who are eight points clear of United.

Rio Ferdinand returned to the United line-up for the first time in a month following knee surgery.

But Ryan Giggs, initially named among the substitutes, was forced to watch the game from the stands after pulling up with a slight twinge in the warm-up.


We were shoddy and outbattled in the first half and Villa deserved their lead
Sir Alex Ferguson

Despite the clouds gathering over Taylor's Villa, who started the day in 15th place, the visitors adhered to their manager's attack-minded tactics from the outset.

Indeed, only youngster Stefan Moore's profligacy spared United from suffering an early setback, first shooting wide and then seeing his second effort expertly saved by Fabien Barthez.

With David Beckham's industry in midfield the exception, United lacked their customary sense of purpose early on.

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson
Ferguson was made to wait for the equaliser

And they were made to pay for their lethargy when Villa deservedly took the lead on 35 minutes.

Not for the first time this season, Laurent Blanc was the culprit.

The United defender tried to run the ball along his own goal-line but succeeded only in nodding it out for a corner.


I'm disappointed we could not hold on to all three points
Villa boss Graham Taylor

He then failed to pick up Mellberg, who powered home a header from Mark Kinsella's curling effort.

It was left to United's true thoroughbreds - Beckham and Paul Scholes - to lead the charge for an equaliser.

Both went close - England captain Beckham's left-foot shot crashing off the crossbar and Scholes' strike fizzing just wide.

United stepped up the tempo after the interval and their endeavour was finally rewarded on 77 minutes.

Forlan rose headed home United's equaliser from a Mikael Silvestre cross to send the Old Trafford faithful into raptures.



Man Utd: Barthez, Gary Neville, Blanc, Ferdinand, Silvestre, Beckham, Veron, Scholes, Phil Neville (Fortune 60), Forlan, Solskjaer.
Subs Not Used: Ricardo, O'Shea, Richardson, Roche.

Booked: Beckham.

Aston Villa: Enckelman, Barry, Staunton, Mellberg, Samuel, Leonhardsen (Hitzlsperger 84), Kinsella, Taylor, Delaney, Dublin (Crouch 66), Moore (Angel 66).
Subs Not Used: Postma, Allback.

Attendance: 67,619

Referee: G Poll (Hertfordshire).

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC Five Live's Dave Woods
"Battling Villa deserved a point"
Villa boss Graham Taylor
"A good answer to the criticism we've received"
Man Utd boss Sir Alex Ferguson
"Villa were the better side"
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