Manchester United took all three points as Scott McTominay and Rasmus Højlund scored under Erik ten Hag against Aston Villa in the Premier League.
It was a tense first 45 minutes with plenty of battles and chances for both teams, but it was Ten Hag’s men who had the upper hand once the teams went in for their 20-minute interval.
The second half saw Aston Villa start to very much assert themselves in the game, they were able to make their continued pressure count as Douglas Luiz equalised for the Birmingham-based team with just under 25 minutes left to play.
Although the fixture seemed to be driving its way to a 1-1 stalemate, Scott McTominay rose to the occasion with just four minutes of regulation time left to head in a brilliant cross from Diogo Dalot and seal the victory for Ten Hag and his men.
#1 – Højlund’s improving accuracy
Rasmus Højlund’s five goals in five Premier League games have helped dig him out of conversations that he was not ready for the competition. However, there is more to it.
During Højlund’s first 14 games in the league, he did not score one goal and had a shooting accuracy of 47%. In his last five games, this has risen to 83%, which is a stark improvement.
He is certainly looking more confident and comfortable up front for United, which is a huge bonus for Ten Hag, with Højlund now the only fit and recognised striker
#2 – Onana’s saves
Much has been made of Onana’s start to life at Manchester United; however, in the first half against Aston Villa, he made several crucial staves that allowed Ten Hag’s men to go head into half-time with a 1-0 lead.
Although Villa did grab their equaliser, there is not much Onana could have done to prevent Luiz’s finish, and should be rightly praised for his keeping performance at Villa Park.
#3 – Maguire’s aerial dominance
Harry Maguire played a big part in United’s opening goal, with the player being the central target of a set-piece routine, nodding the ball down from a corner for Højlund to finish.
Maguire is set to play a big role in the coming months at centre-back, with Lisandro Martínez injured until the beginning of April, and the England international was incredibly dominant in the air across both boxes.
#4 – Ferdinand’s plea
Rio Ferdinand certainly had his words to say when Villa equalised, with the former United centre-back pleading the side to “keep the ball”.
Although United ultimately took all three points on the night, it is a point that must be kept in mind – the squad need to be able to control the game if they want to fight for the top four positions for the remainder of the campaign.
#5 – McTominay playing hero
Scott McTominay, for all the discourse around if he is a United-level player, has played the hero role brilliantly under Ten Hag this season.
Coming on to replace Rashford in the second half, the Scottish international headed in his eighth goal of the season, putting him clear as the club’s second top scorer this season behind Højlund.
Coming off the bench to make a big impact through poaching goals has been very much his bread and butter at the club in the last six months, and he continued this today with his 86th-minute winning goal at Villa Park.
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