Aston Villa were on top against Manchester United last night when a contentious penalty decision changed the course of the match.

The Premier League Match Centre has since admitted that Ezri Konsa didn’t foul Bruno Fernandes, but that is little help to Dean Smith now.

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But if Villa were hamstrung by the officials for the first goal, Mason Greenwood’s strike to double the lead on half time was entirely of their own making.

Tyrone Mings could have twice done better; he was outmuscled by Anthony Martial early in the buildup before failing to close Greenwood down quickly enough to prevent him shifting the game out of Villa’s reach.

Alex Livesey – Danehouse/Getty Images

It is that second goal which Smith should be focusing on.

Relegation battles are about controlling the controllables. Smith can’t change the decision making of VAR but he can – although he hasn’t really so far this season – improve his defence.

1-0 down at half time on the back of a promising performance would potentially have been a redeemable situation for Smith.

At 2-0 down, having conceded just before the interval, Villa had a mountain to climb and the distinction comes from their defensive ineptitude.

That is what Smith should be more alarmed by, and specifically his defensive leader Mings.

Neville Williams/Aston Villa FC via Getty Images

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