Scott McTominay heads Manchester United to victory over Aston Villa
Super-sub Scott McTominay's thundering header secured Manchester United a late, hard-fought victory away to fellow Champions League hopefuls Aston Villa.
This felt like a match that the sixth-placed Red Devils could ill afford to lose given Unai Emery’s men were a place higher in the standings and able to extend an eight-point cushion to 11.
In-form Rasmus Hojlund broke Villa hearts at Christmas and got United off to a dream start when scoring in a fifth straight Premier League match, but the hosts responded brilliantly and deserved Douglas Luiz’s second-half leveller.
The match was on a knife-edge from that point and McTominay made another key contribution, scoring his fourth goal off the bench four minutes from time to seal the points at Villa Park.
Emery may well be wondering how his side ended Sunday’s match without so much as a point as Erik ten Hag celebrates his first Premier League away win in charge against a side in the top eight.
Furthermore, this was the first time this season that United have managed to win four straight matches in all competitions.
Raphael Varane replaced injured Lisandro Martinez in the United starting line-up, but Ten Hag otherwise kept faith with the side that secured a clearly confidence-boosting win against West Ham.
United began with confidence and purpose at Villa Park, where Marcus Rashford’s roaring run from his own half ended with Diego Carlos stopping Alejandro Garnacho’s cross finding Hojlund.
Harry Maguire headed over a corner before Villa’s Brazilian centre-back produced another key intervention, blocking Hojlund’s shot from a cute Bruno Fernandes pass.
Garnacho flashed an effort wide from 20 yards and United’s pressure in the 17th minute.
Maguire rose above Boubacar Kamara to meet