Erik ten Hag said Manchester United were “totally in control” in the race for a top-four Premier League finish after his side beat Aston Villa 1-0 on Sunday to end the visitors’ 10-match unbeaten run. Bruno Fernandes scored shortly before half time at Old Trafford but fans had to endure a nervy afternoon as goal-shy United failed to kill off the game. The win lifted Ten Hag’s team nine points clear of fifth-placed Tottenham, who were in action at Liverpool later on Sunday.
United, who won the League Cup earlier this season, look likely to qualify for next season’s Champions League alongside Manchester City, Arsenal and Newcastle.
The Dutch manager hailed his men, saying they were “magnificent” on the ball, even though they struggled again to convert their chances.
United’s tally of 49 Premier League goals is the lowest in the top nine apart from Villa — and 35 behind new leaders City.
“We look from game to game and next we have Brighton so we need to work hard again,” said Ten Hag. “We need to show passion again and not worry about the table.
“We are totally in control (in the race for the top four). It’s all about us and it’s in our hands.”
United enjoyed the bulk of possession in the first half and midfielder Casemiro hit the crossbar just before the half hour.
The home side finally broke through in the 39th minute, with Fernandes turning in at the far post after Villa goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez had pushed away a low Marcus Rashford strike.
Villa could not respond, failing to score in a Premier League match for the first time under Emery, with the impressive Victor Lindelof clearing a late Douglas Luiz attempt off the line.
– United bids –
The match came just two days after Sheikh Jassim Bin Hamad Al Thani and Jim Ratcliffe submitted their third, and what is expected to be final, offers to buy United.
Other parties are interested in minority investment, and it was reported that Joel and Avram Glazer could remain stakeholders under one deal being proposed by British billionaire Ratcliffe.
A group of United fans marched to Old Trafford in protest against the Glazers, with a giant banner reading “Full Sale Only”.
Protestors’ flares outside the ground also filled the air inside Old Trafford but many did not heed the call for an 18-minute boycott – a minute for each year of the Glazers’ unpopular ownership, which has loaded the club with huge debts.
An entertaining first half looked likely to end scoreless, only for Fernandes to make the breakthrough — his strike was given the green light after a VAR check.
Villa showed signs of life in the second half, but Victor Lindelof frustrated Ollie Watkins and Jacob Ramsey.
Rashford went down claiming a penalty against Calum Chambers, while Casemiro went close.
Villa nearly leveled without about 10 minutes to go. Some penalty area pinball ended with Luiz’s shot blocked by Marcel Sabitz
(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)
Topics mentioned in this article