Super sub Scott McTominay’s thundering header secured Manchester United a late, hard-fought 2-1 victory away to fellow Champions League hopefuls Aston Villa.
This felt like a match that the sixth-placed Red Devils could ill afford to lose given Unai Emery’s men were a place higher in the standings and able to extend an eight-point cushion to an eye-watering 11.
In-form Rasmus Hojlund broke Villa hearts on Boxing Day and got United off to a dream start when scoring in a fifth straight Premier League match, but the hosts responded brilliantly and deserved Douglas Luiz’s second-half leveller.
The match was on a knife-edge from that point and McTominay made another key contribution, scoring his fourth goal off the bench four minutes from time to seal the points at Villa Park.
Emery may well be wondering how his side ended Sunday’s match without so much as a point as Erik ten Hag celebrates his first Premier League away win in charge against a side in the top nine.
Furthermore, this was the first time this season that United have managed to win four straight matches in all competitions.