Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP): Victor Lindelof was Manchester United’s unlikely hero as they moved into the Premier League’s top six with a 1-0 win over Luton on Saturday.
But Erik ten Hag was left frustrated after his forwards again failed to fire at Old Trafford.
The Swedish defender scored his first goal for nearly three years by smashing in from close range after Luton failed to clear a corner.
Lindelof’s strike means United’s centre-backs have now scored more Premier League goals this season than their forwards.
Ten Hag desperately needed a response after his side slumped to a ninth defeat in 17 games this season by losing 4-3 to FC Copenhagen on Wednesday.
The English giants may be at risk of an early exit from the Champions League, but they have now won four of their last five in the Premier League.
All of those victories have been by a single goal and the manner of victory was again far from convincing for United in the Hatters’ first trip to Old Trafford since 1991.
“It is a good day. We needed the win and we got it but we could make life more easy by scoring early on and getting a second,” said Ten Hag.
“We created the chances but we didn’t score apart from one.
“We had many chances before half-time and you should net one of them. After half-time, get the second and then the game is gone. Now you keep them alive and they can get an equaliser from balls dropping in the wrong place.”
Rasmus Hojlund scored twice on his return to Denmark in midweek to take his tally to five goals in four Champions League games.
However, Hojlund is still yet to net in the Premier League.
The £64 million ($78 million) signing missed two big chances to break his duck.
Hojlund’s best piece of play then teed up Alejandro Garnacho, who failed to beat Thomas Kaminski when clean through on goal.
United had to wait until just before the hour mark to make the breakthrough.
Marcus Rashford’s low cross was deflected back into the path of Lindelof, who made no mistake from 10 yards out.
Rashford was among those guilty of wasting opportunities to add to United’s lead.
But United were rarely troubled defensively as they registered a first Premier League clean sheet at Old Trafford since the opening weekend of the season.
Victory takes United within six points of league leaders Manchester City.
Luton remain outside the relegation zone only on goal difference.
© 2023 AFP
Do you have a story or an opinion to share? Email us on: firstname.lastname@example.org Or join the Daily Express WhatsApp channel for all the latest news and trends or join the Telegram Channel for the latest updates.