Victor Lindelof made a vital goal-line clearance for Manchester United on Sunday, with the defender enjoying a good run of form.
Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag singled Victor Lindelof out for praise after another impressive display in Sunday’s 1-0 win over Aston Villa.
United have been without Raphael Varane and Lisandro Martinez over the past few weeks, with the latter set to miss the rest of the season.
Losing both in quick succession seemed a huge blow, but Lindelof and Luke Shaw – who has been moved centrally – have generally done well in their stead.
Lindelof enjoyed arguably one of his best games in a United shirt last weekend against Brighton and Hove Albion as they secured passage to the FA Cup final, and although the Red Devils threw away a lead against Tottenham in midweek, the Sweden international was hardly culpable.
Against in-form Villa at Old Trafford on Sunday, Lindelof routinely seemed to be in the right place at the right time, making a team-high four clearances, including a vital one off the goal-line to deny the visitors a late equaliser.
Clearly, Ten Hag has been impressed, with Lindelof earning chances ahead of maligned club captain Harry Maguire.
“He’s playing fantastic,” Ten Hag said of Lindelof to BBC Match of the Day.
“Really good games in and out of possession. Today, totally defending in control, but then building up as well, good positioning, good decisions, so we are happy with that.
“The games and life are much easier if you get the second goal earlier or get the second goal. We already have seen we have many players, including Lindelof, who are determined to win the game in attack and defence and that is what you need if you want to be successful.”
Victory for United ensured that, even if Liverpool beat Tottenham, Ten Hag’s men will end the weekend seven points clear of fifth.
United will also have at least one game in hand on each of the three teams directly below them, meaning a top-four spot is all but theirs with six matches left.
Ten Hag is not taking anything for granted but recognises they are in a good position.
“I’m really happy with the points but also with the performance,” Ten Hag continued.
“Really good performance against a Villa side who did not lose in 10 games and scored in every game.
“We were in complete control. It could have been 3-1 or 4-1 [to United], so a really good and impressive performance.
“We have seen character today, we were determined, passionate and we had to win, and we played good football.
“We look from game to game and next we have Brighton, so we need to work hard again. We need to show passion again and not worry about the table.
“We are totally in control [in the race for top four], it’s all about us and it’s in our hands.”