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Other SportsAston Villa 1-2 Manchester United: Scott McTominay goal boosts Red Devils' Champions...

Aston Villa 1-2 Manchester United: Scott McTominay goal boosts Red Devils’ Champions League hopes

Substitute Scott McTominay’s 86th-minute header boosted Manchester United’s ambitions of playing Uefa Champions League football next season and dented Aston Villa’s hopes of qualifying as the visitors won an absorbing contest at Villa Park.

Midfielder McTominay met Diogo Dalot’s inviting cross with a firm header to secure his side a third successive Premier League victory and move them five points behind the fifth-placed Villans, with a maximum of five Premier League positions earning Champions League qualification next season.

Douglas Luiz had drawn Villa level after the break, replying to Rasmus Hojlund’s first-half opener when the midfielder reacted quickest to a rebound to fire his seventh goal of the season.

The result ensured United remain unbeaten in seven matches in all competitions in 2024, while Villa suffered a third consecutive home defeat.

Visiting goalkeeper Andre Onana produced excellent saves to deny John McGinn and Ollie Watkins, with Villa forcing more chances after United full-back Luke Shaw made way for Victor Lindelof at half-time through injury.

United are next in action when they visit relegation battlers Luton Town on Sunday, a day after Villa travel to Fulham.

Aston Villa vs Man United: McTominay makes difference

Striker Hojlund showed his poaching instinct to pounce on Harry Maguire’s header from a corner and give United a lead their early pressure deserved, finding the net with a strike which went through Villa goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez’s legs to give the Denmark international a goal in a fifth successive Premier League match.

The writing was arguably on the wall at half-time for Villa’s hopes of turning the result around, United possessing a 141-match unbeaten run when they had led at the break since a defeat at Leicester in 2014.

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Unai Emery’s side were helped, however, by Shaw’s substitution, prefacing an at-times uncertain United defensive display during the second half.

Watkins should have equalised when Matty Cash found him in front of goal three minutes after the restart, only for the Villa top scorer to fire his first-time shot straight at Onana, hitting him in the chest from close range.

Emery cut an animated figure on the touchline during the closing stages, appearing to cajole his players to find more momentum and show greater intent to find a victory which would have sent them two points behind third-placed Arsenal.

Just when the action appeared to be slowing towards a draw, McTominay – sent on 13 minutes earlier – met Dalot’s delivery from the right, giving Martinez no chance and United victory.

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