Agbonlahor (far left) heads Villa in front after 21 minutes
By Ian Hughes
Aston Villa ended a 26-year wait to beat Manchester United in the league at Old Trafford as they moved up to third place in the Premier League.
Gabriel Agbonlahor scored the winner, heading in from Ashley Young's cross.
Wayne Rooney's shot smashed against the underside of the bar as United hit back, while Ryan Giggs also went close.
Nemanja Vidic had a header cleared off the line and Brad Friedel superbly denied Dimitar Berbatov as Villa clung on to claim an historic win.
The last time Villa beat United was in 1999, in a league cup match, and it is the first time that Villa have claimed all three points against Sir Alex Ferguson's men at Old Trafford in a run stretching back to 1983.
Not only will United be bitterly disappointed by the loss, their fourth of the season and first at home, it also came after leaders Chelsea had surprisingly dropped points at home to Everton earlier in the day.
Instead of United drawing level with Chelsea at the top of the table, it is Martin O'Neill's side who are this week's significant movers, leapfrogging Tottenham and Arsenal.
And Villa secured their 100th Premier League win away from home in style by blending pace and power, and a resolute backline.
We need more wins - O'Neill
Right from the start, Villa looked absolutely determined to end their dismal record against United.
Two successive corners in the opening seconds signalled Villa's attacking intent and they continued that approach throughout, and not for one second were they overawed.
They also might have felt they had a point to prove, as talk has been largely of Manchester City and Tottenham breaking into the top four.
Yet Villa are fast maturing into a team that is capable of challenging the status quo, with the likes of Young and Agbonlahor a real menace up front.
The pair combined superbly to set up what proved to be Villa's winner, when Agbonlahor played the ball out wide to Young, whose return cross was headed in by the striker who had continued his run into the box.
If the goal may have been in part down to Darren Fletcher's unfamiliarity with the right-back position, Agbonlahor is a familiar sight on the scoresheet against United, having notched against them in the last four season.
Before that United had threatened, with Rooney involved in their best moves and most of the attacking coming down the left flank.
Rooney's deft header played in Antonio Valencia but the winger lacked the incisiveness to get a shot away, while Michael Carrick's shot from 20 yards brought a decent save from Friedel.
At the other end, Fletcher was dispossessed by Agbonlahor but his cross for Heskey was pushed away brilliantly by Tomasz Kuszack to prevent a certain goal.
Rooney, who moments before was booked for a clear dive in the area, went close to an equaliser when his excellent first touch gave him a shooting chance and he cracked his shot against the bar from six yards.
We gave away Villa goal - Phelan
United brought on Michael Owen for Ryan Giggs at the start of the second half, a bid to address the problem of Rooney's isolation up front.
Half-chances fell to Carrick and Rooney, who had a goal-bound shot blocked as Villa defended doggedly.
Rooney then tried to pay in Berbatov, who was called off the bench as United employed a three-man forward line, but the pass went astray.
Berbatov should have done much better when Owen picked him out with an accurate cross but the Bulgarian fluffed his volley.
Villa, pinned back in their own half, seemed to have ridden out the storm and looked comfortable for a while.
But then they needed a goal-line clearance from Downing to keep out Vidic's header and shortly after Freidel pulled off a magnificent save to deny Berbatov, whose low shot had been headed for the corner.
United's last chance to salvage something fell to Carrick, but it was not to be as he fired his effort wide.
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