It was certainly a game of two halves, with all six goals coming in the second period, as Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford, Bruno Fernandes and Scott McTominay scored for the Red Devils as they progressed to the fourth round of the competition.
It was match that produced one of the dullest opening 45 minutes Old Trafford has seen in many years, with United’s best chance coming via a Diogo Dalot that deflected over, while Douglas Luiz did produce one of his trademark curling shots from a corner which was headed off the line by Scott McTominay.
But it was a totally different spectacle after the break, with Villa netting the opener within three minutes of the game restarting. Jacob Ramsey passed into Ollie Watkins, who advanced on the United net and chipped it over debutant Martin Dubravka.
Within minutes it was level. A long ball into Fernandes completely bypassed the entire Villa defence and he tapped inside for Martial to score from just a few yards out. Rashford then had a chance deflected wide, as the game suddenly burst into life.
Not long after the hour mark and Villa took the lead for a second time via a Dalot own-goal. Ex-United man Ashley Young crossed to the back post for Leon Bailey, and the winger sent a hopeful header across goal which was inadvertently touched in by the unfortunate Portugal defender.
Yet six minutes later and United were once again level. This time, Rashford capitalised on a slip from Tyrone Mings inside the box and he powered a shot beyond Robin Olsen. There was barely time to draw breath for either side - Bailey saw a shot saved before Maguire forced a save from Olsen from a header and then Fernandes’ shot from 25 yards squirmed just wide.
And it was the United No.18 who grabbed what proved to be the third goal. On 79 minutes Olsen misjudged his pass out to Boubacar Kamara; Alejandro Garnacho collected the ball and slipped it to Fernandes, who benefitted from a deflection off Mings, which gave the Villa keeper no chance of saving his shot.
United kept up their attacking momentum and McTominay hit the bar in the latter stages, not long before Christian Eriksen headed over. McTominay also got a touch to Garnacho’s cross in injury-time and poked the ball into the back of the net for the last goal of an action-packed second half.
Here’s how we rated the players...