Match ends, Aston Villa 1, Sheffield United 0.
Sheffield United boss Chris Wilder criticised two "major decisions" from officials as Ezri Konsa's second-half header gave Aston Villa victory over the Blades, who played for 78 minutes with 10 men.
Konsa headed in fellow defender Tyrone Mings' flick-on in the 63rd minute after Matt Targett whipped a corner in from the left for the only goal of the game.
But Wilder questioned referee Graham Scott's decisions to send off John Egan early in the game and not show a red a card to Villa's Targett for conceding a penalty, which John Lundstram saw saved by Villa debutant Emiliano Martinez with the score at 0-0.
A lengthy VAR review showed Targett had clipped Chris Basham in the box, but the 'double jeopardy' rule - which means a player cannot be sent off when conceding a penalty if they were making an attempt to win the ball - saw the Villa left-back only pick up a booking.
Egan, however, was dismissed for denying a clear goalscoring opportunity for tussling with Ollie Watkins, who looked to be in on goal in the 12th minute.
"Why didn't the referee go over to the monitor? I wouldn't come out here and mug myself off - if I thought it was a clear sending-off I'd say so," Wilder told Sky Sports.
"Why didn't he go to the monitor? Why didn't Stockley Park [where the VAR officials are based] say 'it's a bit of tussle and look at it yourself'?
Speaking to BBC Sport, he added: "The penalty - Egan gets sent off 35 yards from goal, Matt Targett makes no effort to win the ball.
"The double jeopardy is only when the opposition player makes a challenge for the ball, the ball is four yards away, so [he can't reach it] unless he's got spider legs he can wrap around - and he hasn't because I've watched it."
The defeat was United's fifth in a row in the Premier League, including the end of last season, and despite regrouping from the sending-off, they could not hold out to earn a share of the points.
Meanwhile, Villa continue where they left off at the end of the last campaign and are now unbeaten in their past five league games.
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Martinez heroics as Villa battle to victory
Villa got off to a good start and within a minute right-back Matty Cash - making his debut - fired a dangerous ball into the box but John McGinn's volley flew over the bar.
United also threatened in the early exchanges and Konsa had to slide in at the near post to prevent a low cross from the right being poked in by David McGoldrick.
But Villa were gifted the upper hand inside a quarter of an hour when Egan pulled back Watkins as he raced on to Mings' long ball and referee Scott showed the red card.
Despite their numerical disadvantage, Lundstram could have given United the lead from the spot 20 minutes later but Martinez, who arrived from Arsenal for £17m earlier this month, dived to his right to deny the midfielder.
Conor Hourihane's deliveries were causing problems and although Villa were unable to capitalise initially, they deserved to take the lead through Konsa's header after Jack Grealish and Watkins each went close.
It was Villa's second victory in a week after they overcame League One side Burton Albion in the Carabao Cup second round.
Blades fail to recover from Egan red
After going two goals down in their Premier League opener to Wolves within six minutes last Monday, Wilder would have hoped for a smoother start at Villa Park.
But again, a needless error from Egan made United's task much harder and Wilder was forced to sacrifice striker McGoldrick before the break.
New signing Ethan Ampadu's introduction was a shrewd tactical decision - releasing Basham into midfield and moving John Fleck across to deal with Cash.
The move paid off immediately with Basham making the forward run into the box to earn the penalty but Lundstram was unable to take advantage.
United kept their organisation and steel at the back - pushing back every set-piece and squeezing out the space in which Villa tried to work for the next half an hour.
But Konsa's header was the key blow and while United had glimpses of hope on the counter-attack, they never truly tested Villa from open play.
What they said
Aston Villa boss Dean Smith to BBC Sport: "A very good start, to get three points and a clean sheet you can't ask for more. I thought we started the game the better and the game changes with the sending-off.
"We've worked on Tyrone Mings getting across the near post, flicking it on and Ezri Konsa arriving. It's difficult when they go in with two banks of four. We probably should have scored more. Since lockdown, defensively I think we've been more aggressive."
A first for debutant Martinez - the best of the stats
- Aston Villa have won three consecutive Premier League games at Villa Park for the first time since October 2007 under Martin O'Neill.
- Villa are unbeaten in their last 14 home league meetings with Sheffield United (W8 D6), including all five games against them at Villa Park in the Premier League (W4 D1).
- Sheffield United have lost their opening two games to a top-flight season for the first time since 1973-74.
- Seven of Aston Villa's last nine Premier League goals have come from set-piece situations (four corners, three free-kicks).
- Sheffield United have failed to win any of their 11 Premier League games in which they received a red card (D4 L7).
- Konsa has scored two goals in his last four league games, one more than he registered in his previous 137 in league competition.
- Martinez became the first goalkeeper to save a penalty on their debut for Aston Villa in the Premier League.
Aston Villa travel to Bristol City in the third round of the Carabao Cup on Thursday (19:00 BST), before a visit to Fulham in the Premier League on Monday (18:00).
Sheffield United host Leeds United in the Premier League on Sunday (12:00).
- 2CashBooked at 83mins
- 18TargettBooked at 33mins
- 14HourihaneSubstituted forDavisat 62'minutes
- 6Douglas Luiz
- 7McGinnBooked at 84mins
- 21El Ghazi
- 27El Mohamady
- 6BashamSubstituted forMcBurnieat 68'minutes
- 12EganBooked at 12mins
- 7LundstramBooked at 10mins
- 4FleckSubstituted forOsbornat 63'minutes
- 17McGoldrickSubstituted forAmpaduat 31'minutes
- Graham Scott
- Shots on Target
Second Half ends, Aston Villa 1, Sheffield United 0.
Attempt missed. Douglas Luiz (Aston Villa) right footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the right. Assisted by Keinan Davis.
Corner, Aston Villa. Conceded by John Lundstram.
Attempt blocked. Jack Grealish (Aston Villa) left footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Ollie Watkins.
Foul by Trézéguet (Aston Villa).
Sander Berge (Sheffield United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Attempt missed. Sander Berge (Sheffield United) left footed shot from a difficult angle on the left is too high. Assisted by Oliver McBurnie following a corner.
Corner, Sheffield United. Conceded by John McGinn.
Ezri Konsa Ngoyo (Aston Villa) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Oliver Burke (Sheffield United).
Attempt missed. John McGinn (Aston Villa) left footed shot from outside the box misses to the right. Assisted by Trézéguet.
John McGinn (Aston Villa) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Foul by John McGinn (Aston Villa).
John Lundstram (Sheffield United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Matthew Cash (Aston Villa) is shown the yellow card.
Attempt missed. Jack Grealish (Aston Villa) right footed shot from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the left. Assisted by John McGinn.
Attempt blocked. Sander Berge (Sheffield United) right footed shot from the right side of the box is blocked. Assisted by John Lundstram.
Attempt missed. Ollie Watkins (Aston Villa) right footed shot from the left side of the box is just a bit too high. Assisted by John McGinn.
Attempt blocked. Douglas Luiz (Aston Villa) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by John McGinn.
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