Manchester United showed exceptional character and resilience to secure a late winning goal in their 2-1 triumph over Aston Villa, despite facing fatigue towards the end of the match, according to manager Erik ten Hag.
Although Rasmus Hojlund’s early 17th-minute goal was equalized by Douglas Luiz’s strike in the second half, substitute Scott McTominay’s decisive goal in the 86th minute propelled sixth-placed United to 41 points after claiming their third consecutive victory.
“I liked especially the first 20 minutes, when we are dictating the game. After I think we are dropping a little bit too much,” Ten Hag told reporters on Sunday.
“We had our moments in the counter attacks, but yeah, I think then at 1-1, to fight back, we are really happy for today… I think it was really high intensity and you could see how many players were so, so fatigued by the end.
“It was so open and it could go two ways. But then finally, I think we found the mentality and the character to win this game. And I think also the subs, they have had an impact.”
During the victory, Manchester United faced an injury concern as defender Luke Shaw, who has been sidelined for a significant part of the season due to injury, was substituted at half-time.
Ten Hag said the England left back’s substitution was precautionary, adding: “He mentioned some complaints and we can’t take a risk with him, especially Luke Shaw, because he has had so many injuries in the past.
“We took him off so that it did not become an injury. We have to see how it develops in the coming days.”
United next travel to 17th-placed Luton on Sunday.