Manchester United captain Harry Maguire was again out ruled out with injury for the FA Cup third round clash over Aston Villa last night.
Ralf Rangnick played Victor Lindelof and Raphael Varane at the heart of his defence and United kept a clean sheet despite plenty of concerted Villa pressure, especially in the second half.
An early Scott McTominay goal was enough to get the job done and set up a fourth round tie with Championship outfit Middlesbrough next month.
Maguire took to Instagram after the game to react as United booked their place in the next round.
Maguire was struggling for form before his injury and perhaps his spell out of the side will give him a chance to regroup and get some confidence back.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer tended to rush Maguire back from injuries, most recently in the 4-2 defeat to Leicester this season, but Rangnick seems keener to give his players ample chance to recover.
Luke Shaw was in a similar situation to Maguire, but he has been playing through it and he also reacted to the result on Instagram after full time.
United face Villa again this Saturday, as they travel to Villa Park in the day’s late kick off.
Last night’s win makes it a 1-0 victory apiece in the meetings between the two sides this season, and Villa’s performance last night showed they will be dangerous opponents.
Time will tell whether Maguire will be fit enough to return for that game.
Varane was commanding and composed throughout the game and while Lindelof did not show many signs of rustiness on his return, a really poor touch from the Swede almost allowed Ollie Watkins to equalise in the first half.
The England international crashed the ball off the bar and that was as close as Villa came to scoring legitimately, although they also had two goals ruled out for offside.
The win and clean sheet were imperative for Rangnick and he may soon have a decision to make over whether to bring his captain back into the side immediately.
- Reaction as Manchester United set to net £5m loan fee with Anthony Martial exit agreed
- Manager “really pleased” with Manchester United loanee's performances vs league's best
- 7 players who could leave Manchester United before the transfer deadline
- 10 things we learned from Ralf Rangnick's first 10 games in charge at Manchester United
- Ranking Marcus Rashford's 4 Manchester United injury time winning goals