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Steven Gerrard challenges his players to 'flip result' after FA Cup exit at Old Trafford

One of Liverpool’s greatest-ever players manager his managerial debut at Old Trafford.
Steven Gerrard, Manager of Aston Villa looks on during the FA Cup Third Round match between Manchester United and Aston Villa. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Steven Gerrard, Manager of Aston Villa looks on during the FA Cup Third Round match between Manchester United and Aston Villa. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Manchester United edged a pulsating FA Cup clash with Aston Villa as Scott McTominay’s early header proved enough to seal a place in round four, but Villa boss Steven Gerrard has a message for his player after the game.

After a weekend of intrigue and upsets, the third round ended with an all-Premier League encounter and one of Liverpool’s greatest-ever players managing at Old Trafford for the first time.

Monday’s tie lacked goals but provided plenty of entertainment, with McTominay’s header the difference as Ralf Rangnick’s United secured a hard-fought 1-0 win to set up a fourth-round date at home to Middlesbrough.

Villa already had an Old Trafford win under their belt this season and will leave ruing what could have been given the number of chances they created after falling behind in the eighth minute.

Ollie Watkins cannoned an effort off the crossbar in the first half and, while United had chances to extend their lead, the visitors looked as unruffled as their constantly goaded manager.

Danny Ings saw an equaliser ruled out after a lengthy video assistant referee review, with Jacob Ramsey’s block on Edinson Cavani the apparent reason, before Watkins saw a leveller chalked off for offside.

United looked there for the taking but Gerrard’s side could not eke out an equaliser in a tie that adds spice to Saturday evening’s Premier League meeting between the clubs at Villa Park.

"It is quite unique to play a team in the space of five or six days," reflected Gerrard of his imminent re-match with United. "The players have an opportunity to flip the mood, flip the feeling. I am sure they are frustrated. They played quite well and dominated large arts but with no rewards for the performance so they have an opportunity at Villa Park to straighten that out.

"I am not disappointed in the performance tonight just disappointed we didn't take our chances and conceded a sloppy goal.

"We are out of the FA Cup and coming into this job I saw this competition as an opportunity to have a good run in it.

"The lads gave a lot in terms of performance but we need to learn and close the gap from a performance that was nearly good enough. We dominated for large parts but we were not ruthless enough.

"I've seen enough tonight in terms of the performance to know that I can get to where I want to get to but we need to learn and learn quickly. We need to be more ruthless moving forward, defending crosses we need to be tighter. We cannot be having people with free headers in our six yard box. It is quite clear what we need to iron out and we will do it in the short term."

United interim boss Ralf Rangnick suggested he saw progress from United after their disappointing Premier League defeat against Wolves in their last match, but their performance was still less than convincing.

"I think we showed a reaction after the Wolves game, that is what everyone expected from us," said the German tactician. "We knew it would be very difficult against Villa. In the first half I thought we did well. It could have been 3-2 or 4-3 to us at half time.

"In the second half we were on the counter attack and we could have made more of those situations. We took the wrong decisions at times but when we changed to a diamond in midfield we had more control.

"In the last 20 minutes we had more control. We fought well as a team together when it was important. In the end it was a good win. That was our goal, to proceed to the next round.

"We still have quite a few things we can get better at but clean sheet was important today and we worked together. Still a lot of things to improve but it is easier to do that with a 1-0 win."

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