Revealed: How Erik ten Hag inspired Manchester United's comeback win against Aston Villa at Old Trafford
Struggling throughout the season, Manchester United faced the prospect of another defeat at Old Trafford. However, a brace from Alejandro Garnacho and Rasmus Hojlund's first Premier League goal helped the Red Devils secure a thrilling 3-2 win.
Rasmus Hojlund ended his goal drought in the Premier League by scoring a late winner for Manchester United against Aston Villa in their thrilling 3-2 win at Old Trafford on Tuesday night. Despite being a 72 million pounds signing from Atalanta in the summer, the Danish striker had not found the net in his first 14 league games for the Red Devils. Eager to break the dry spell, he achieved just that against the high-flying Villa.
Struggling throughout the season, United faced the prospect of another defeat at home as they trailed 2-0 at halftime, with Villa's John McGinn and Leander Dendoncker on the scoresheet. However, a spirited second-half performance saw the Red Devils turn the game around. Alejandro Garnacho's quickfire brace leveled the scores, and Hojlund secured the comeback with a left-footed strike with nine minutes remaining. United secured a much-needed victory, closing the game with no further goals.
Following this thrilling victory, Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag was asked to reveal his halftime talk to the players that inspired the comeback. Speaking to Match of the Day, the Dutchman said, "Keep believing. I think our fans they deserved it. They are always behind us and we’ve had so many setbacks. So I’m really pleased from the performance of this team. What kind of team can handle and deal with the amount of setbacks we have had? They are resilient, they have showed character and their personality to turn it around. I am very pleased with the performance of this team."
Ten Hag added, "Keep going, even when you get setbacks. Again we had so many setbacks today as well. Two set plays and we lose focus, also you can say very well done from Villa. But we created moments in the first half and you get disappointed you don’t score. Straight after half-time we have a goal which is offside. But I am very pleased with the strength of my team and the character the team showed.”
After the game, Manchester United's goal-scorers, Hojlund and Garnacho, had a conversation with Amazon Prime. In a touching moment during the interview, Hojlund presented the Man of the Match award to Garnacho, eliciting a response from the latter who said, 'I love you.'
Hojlund also expressed joy following maiden Premier League goal and called himself as the 'happiest man alive'. "It's been a while. I am happy. I am the happiest man alive. You can see with the celebrations. Like Garna [Garnacho] says, we believe until the end, and we showed a lot of character again today," the Danish striker said.
"Like the manager said, I’ve scored a couple in the Champions League, of course, but it’s been a while in the Premier League now. I’m happy to get the first one and can hopefully just build on that and keep going. I’m happy for the attackers as well today – we showed a lot of character and we showed a lot of confidence as well," he added.
To conclude December, Manchester United will visit Nottingham Forest this Saturday. Riding a wave of confidence, the Red Devils will be optimistic about securing a victory at the City Ground. Presently occupying the sixth position in the table, United trails Tottenham Hotspur by five points for the fourth spot, though they have played one more game than the north London side.