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Aston Villa logo
Premier League | Gameweek 24
Feb 11, 2024 at 4.30pm UK
Villa Park
Manchester United logo
Aston Villa
1 - 2
Man Utd
Luiz (67')
Lenglet (45+4'), Cash (60'), Diaby (71')
FT(HT: 0-1)
Hojlund (17'), McTominay (86')
Casemiro (37'), Mainoo (45+4')

Manchester United close gap on Aston Villa thanks to Scott McTominay winner

Man United close gap on Aston Villa thanks to McTominay winner
© Reuters
Scott McTominay powers home an 86th-minute header as Manchester United overcome Aston Villa 2-1 to close the gap on the Lions in the Premier League table.

Manchester United closed the gap on fellow Premier League top-four chasers Aston Villa with a hard-earned 2-1 win at Villa Park.

The Lions' powers of recovery would ostensibly be enough for a slice of the spoils in the West Midlands, as Douglas Luiz cancelled out a first-half opener from the free-scoring Rasmus Hojlund.

However, the ever-threatening Scott McTominay popped up with yet another Premier League goal to take Erik ten Hag's sixth-placed men to within five points of Unai Emery's fifth-placed side, who missed the chance to leapfrog Tottenham Hotspur back into the Champions League positions.

Raphael Varane for the injured Lisandro Martinez was the only alteration made to a settled Man United XI, while Emery brought Jacob Ramsey into his Villa side after their miserable FA Cup defeat to Chelsea in midweek.

As expected, the encounter in the West Midlands was frenetic, fast-paced and end-to-end from the first whistle, although Man United soon rose into the ascendancy and were deservedly ahead in the 17th minute.

Maguire had already asserted his dominance from set pieces in the opening exchanges and used his intimidating frame to good effect once again, heading a Bruno Fernandes corner into the six-yard box, where Hojlund was waiting to guide the ball home.

By prolonging his hot streak in front of goal, Hojlund became the second-youngest Premier League player to find the back of the net in five successive matches at 21 years and seven days, only behind a 19-year-old Nicolas Anelka during the Frenchman's time at Arsenal.

Villa's response to going a goal down was a positive one, as John McGinn tried to pick out the top corner with a fierce 20-yard strike in the 24th minute, but Andre Onana got his fingertips to the ball and made a top save.

Aston Villa's Douglas Luiz celebrates scoring their first goal on February 11, 2024© Reuters

Just one moment later, the Cameroonian came out on top in a one-on-one with Ollie Watkins, sprinting off his line to thwart the Englishman as the Lions inched closer to a leveller, roared on by the agitated home crowd.

Ten Hag was forced into a defensive switch at half time, taking off Luke Shaw and deploying Victor Lindelof as an emergency left-back, and Villa inevitably began to target that flank in the hope of clawing their way back into the contest.

Within just three minutes of the second half, a cross from the left found its way to Watkins in a central position, but from point-blank range, the Englishman shot straight into the chest of Onana before Diogo Dalot hacked the ball clear.

The Portuguese was also needed to intercept a tame Ramsey strike - which may or may not have been creeping into the far corner - in the 61st minute, before a well-positioned Onana produced another close-range save from Clement Lenglet six moments later.

However, the Lions' constant pressure would pay dividends in the same phase of play, as the ball came back out to Leon Bailey on the right, and his cross took a slight nick off of Fernandes on its way to Luiz, who swept home into the top corner to draw Villa level.

Emery's men had been firmly on top since the second half commenced, but Alejandro Garnacho very nearly restored the visitors' advantage in the 70th minute, surging infield and letting fly only to see his attempt roll agonisingly wide.

For all of the hosts' promising endeavours in the second period, though, it was Man United who would steal the precious three points in the 86th minute, as a delightful Dalot delivery sailed onto the head of substitute McTominay, who outmuscled Matty Cash and powered home his seventh Premier League goal of the season.

Onana - who had earned his keep in the West Midlands - only had another two comfortable saves to make en route to victory, holding onto a long-range Watkins header in the 89th minute before also showing strong handling to block Cash's speculative attempt in the second of six added minutes.

The Lions are next in action away to Fulham on February 17, whereas the Red Devils have an extra day to recuperate before they travel to Kenilworth Road to face Luton Town next Sunday.

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Tables header RHS
2Manchester CityMan City25175358263256
4Aston Villa25154652331949
5Tottenham HotspurSpurs25145652381447
6Manchester UnitedMan Utd2514293534144
7Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton2510874840838
8Newcastle UnitedNewcastle251141053411237
9West Ham UnitedWest Ham2510693644-836
11Wolverhampton WanderersWolves25105103940-135
15Crystal Palace2567122844-1625
16Nottingham ForestNott'm Forest2566133244-1224
18Luton TownLuton2555153551-1620
20Sheffield UnitedSheff Utd2534182265-4313

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