Soccer-Ten Hag hails United’s character after Villa win

By Thomson Reuters Feb 11, 2024 | 11:25 PM

(Reuters) – Manchester United displayed great character and mentality to score a late winner in their 2-1 Premier League victory over Aston Villa despite being fatigued towards the end of the high-intensity match, manager Erik ten Hag said.

Rasmus Hojlund’s 17th-minute opener was cancelled out by Douglas Luiz’s second-half strike before substitute Scott McTominay scored in the 86th minute to move sixth-placed United up to 41 points after 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, the character to win this game. And I think also the subs, they have had an impact.”

United were dealt an injury scare during the win with defender Luke Shaw, who has missed a large portion of the season due to injury, being 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, 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 travel to 17th-placed Luton Town for a league clash on Sunday.

(Reporting by Aadi Nair in Bengaluru; editing by Miral Fahmy)