But the Blades missed a golden opportunity to score the opener after half an hour when John Lundstram was denied from the penalty spot by Villa debutant Emiliano Martinez, after a lengthy VAR review showed Targett had clipped Chris Basham in the box.
United regrouped and were solid in defence – clearing numerous crosses and presenting a threat on the break – but could not hold out to earn a share of the points.
Reaction and analysis from Villa Park Martinez heroics as Villa battle to victory.
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 Graham 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.
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