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Super-sub Coutinho scores an impressive equalizer on his debut to beat the Reds’ top four hopes

WHEN Philippe Coutinho was working his magic in Liverpool back in the day, The Kop used to call him the Little Magician.

Well, he definitely pulled a rabbit out of his hat… and answered all the doubters in the world in an astounding 13 minutes when he did.

Aston Villa goalkeeper saves Bruno Fernandes' shot with his foot to give Manchester United an early goal

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Aston Villa goalkeeper saves Bruno Fernandes’ shot with his foot to give Manchester United an early goalCredit: Reuters
Fernandes turns away in joy after scoring his first goal since December 2

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Fernandes turns away in joy after scoring his first goal since December 2Credit: Getty

Manchester United took control of the course and aimed to take the three points as easily as they had earned all season as Steven Gerrard tossed the Brazilian on the bench.

The clock was close to 69 minutes and even Holte Ender with one eyelid could not dream of the miracle to come.

Because it wasn’t just Coutinho who then teemed up on Jacob Ramsey for a goal that reinvigorated his side, and fueled the Villa fans on their wet performance overnight.

But nine minutes later, he scored the equalizer, which gave them the most unbelievable score.

It is the perfect answer for those wondering if Coutinho will still be able to cut it off at Prem level when he arrives at Barcelona on loan.

And it also proves that perhaps Cristiano Ronaldo is finally right to doubt the mental toughness and attitude of his teammates.

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Ronaldo he himself went missing, obviously with a hip injury, which Ralf Rangnick doesn’t think will keep him out of the midweek clash with Brentford.

And for most of the evening United without their kingpin delivered the ideal two-fingered response, taking a two-goal lead and looking home and rushing in.

Enter Coutinho, and he first swaps the pass with Carney Chukwuemeka, to give Ramsey a chance to finally find a way past David De Gea.

Then, with Villa Park turning up last, Ramsey returned the favor by drilling a cross that Coutinho ended with the cool composure of an assassin.

To be fair, even the Brazilian looked like he was trying to believe the impact he had made as he explored and twirled his way to celebrate with the fans.

It certainly shocked United, seeing two points taken away when for so long it had only seemed like a case of “how many”.

They have also been of great help along the way, and no one can thank Coutinho’s heroes more than goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez.

He was responsible for a howl on the right in United’s fifth-minute opener, leaving Bruno Fernandes unsure whether to celebrate or smirk.

French left-back Lucas Digne impresses on Villans debut after joining Everton

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French left-back Lucas Digne impresses on Villans debut after joining EvertonCredit: Reuters
Red Devils youngster Mason Greenwood missed several chances at Villa Park

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Red Devils youngster Mason Greenwood missed several chances at Villa ParkCredit: Reuters
Fernandes doubled United's lead in the 67th minute with a mighty strike past Martinez

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Fernandes doubled United’s lead in the 67th minute with a mighty strike past MartinezCredit: Getty

When Alex Telles ran over the ball, he barely touched it. However, it was enough for Fernandes to take a step forward and block a shot that bounced off the crossbar in front of Martinez.

It also hit his gut and that should have been enough to make sure it didn’t happen.

But the Villa goalkeeper is leaning forward, the ball bouncing down, over his feet and out of bounds before he could react.

Martinez looked at referee David Coote with pleading eyes, desperate to be saved by an offside whistle against Edinson Cavani, who had hung one leg in front of him.

However, Tyrone Mings was forced to step back to play on the Uruguay side, United took the lead, and the Villa keeper faced embarrassment.

To be fair, he then launched a one-man crusade to try to make amends, bravely throwing himself in front of Greenwood to push his vacant blockbuster to safety.

He devised two more stops to deny the same man and take a Telles free-kick – don’t try to catch that! – and then amazingly, immensely, Villa found their feet.

When they did, it was also almost a dream debut for Lucas Digne, but unlike Martinez, De Gea held him back when he made his debut and that was it.

Portugal star Fernandes was harassed by his teammates after claiming second of the match

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Portugal star Fernandes was harassed by his teammates after claiming second of the matchCredit: Reuters
Villans star Jacob Ramsey equalized for the home side in the 77th minute

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Villans star Jacob Ramsey equalized for the home side in the 77th minuteCredit: Getty

De Gea produced an even better goal to stop Jacob Ramsey’s strike, putting his class on top of it all with a save at the foot of the post.

Not so heavy as Douglas Luiz stamped on Fernandes in a near-ending second half, remember.

With United captain Harry-Maguire’s absence going on a few minutes later, perhaps he should be riding on him more.

As for when Morgan Sanson coughed to own Fred at 30 yards, he fed Fernandes and – with Martinez trying to guess him a second time by going right – he smashed it straight and went over the bar.

That, so we think, is so. Mind you, it will never be a real surprise.

It hasn’t been since 1995 and the infamous “you win nothing with the kids” game has United beaten here. Obviously Saturday night won’t be the night either.

In the end, of course, no, it’s not. But after losing the two-goal lead to Coutinho and Co, that feeling is no longer enjoyable.

Philippe Coutinho came on from the bench to equalize on his debut after being picked by Ramsey

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Philippe Coutinho came on from the bench to equalize on his debut after being picked by RamseyCredit: Getty
Coutinho makes home team fans admire after scoring from close range

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Coutinho makes home team fans admire after scoring from close rangeCredit: Getty

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https://www.the-sun.com/sport/premier-league/4471025/aston-villa-2-man-utd-2-fernandes-ramsey-coutinho/ Super-sub Coutinho scores an impressive equalizer on his debut to beat the Reds’ top four hopes

Huynh Nguyen

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