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McTominay’s late strike keeps Man Utd’s top four hopes alive

BIRMINGHAM (AFP) – Scott McTominay kept alive Manchester United’s hopes of finishing in the Premier League’s top four as the midfielder’s late goal clinched a vital 2-1 win against Aston Villa on Sunday.

Erik ten Hag’s side desperately needed a victory at Villa Park to close the gap in the race to qualify for next season’s Champions League.

United took an early lead through in-form Rasmus Hojlund before Douglas Luiz levelled in the second half.

That set the stage for United’s second late winner against Villa this term as McTominay came off the bench to head home with just four minutes left.

United remain in sixth place after their fourth successive victory in all competitions, but they are now just five points behind fifth-placed Villa and six adrift of fourth-placed Tottenham.

Manchester United’s Scott McTominay celebrates with teammates after scoring the winning goal against Aston Villa. PHOTO: AP

“It is a massive win for us. We’ve got closer and that was the aim for today. The way we did it, I liked it,” Ten Hag said.

“At 1-1 we had to fight back and we are really happy about that. It was so open, like a tennis match. It could go two ways, but we found the mentality and character to win.

“Scott is great. He is an example for many players these days. He is always ready to come on and make a difference.”

Villa boss Unai Emery added: “We were playing well against the mighty Manchester United, but we couldn’t score some clear chances.

“The result is tough for us and difficult to accept but that’s football. We played like we planned and deserved more.”

While a top four place is still a tough ask for United, they have at least given themselves a chance with their gritty success in the West Midlands.