Ten Hag praises ‘magnificent’ performance as Manchester United move to brink of UCL qualification

Manchester United edged closer to securing a top four finish as they earned a 1-0 win over Bournemouth.

The Red Devils came into the game with a game in hand and a one-point advantage over Liverpool, meaning they headed to Bournemouth knowing they needed just six points from their remaining three fixtures to secure Champions League football next season.


Manchester United got off to the perfect start on the South Coast, taking the lead in just the ninth minute. Christian Eriksen’s ball over the Bournemouth backline dropped to Casemiro, who adjusted his body to swivel and smash home a superb finish.

United dominated possession and carved out a number of decent chances, though in what has been some of the story of their season, were guilty of not being clinical enough in the final third.

The victory – combined with Liverpool’s 1-1 draw with Aston Villa – means that United now just need one point from their remaining two games to secure a top four finish, and speaking after the game, Erik ten Hag was delighted with his side’s performance in the early stages.

“Today we are happy. A great performance,” he told MUTV.

“The first 25 minutes was a brilliant performance from our team. In building up, staying compact, the counterpress, the press, a lot of things. Magnificent. I hope we can stay longer at such levels. That is what we have to work for.”

Asked about the goal, Ten Hag said the side have been working on getting runners in-behind defences

“It’s great. I think the whole midfield played brilliant this afternoon,” he said.

“We talk a lot, we train a lot, and we coach a lot of movement behind, and now it’s coming out of the third line. It’s a great run from Casemiro and a great touch from Christian Eriksen. The finish is brilliant.”

Asked about his side’s inability to score more goals, he said: “It is a symbol of the season. We are not scoring so easily.

“Nevertheless, we have over 100 goals during the season. That’s a lot, but we have played a lot of games. Sometimes the [lack of] freshness, but that is one of the things we have to improve, to score more easily. That makes life easy because now we have to fight to the end. If we didn’t have that great goal, we would draw that.”

David de Gea’s future at the club has been in doubt, though the clean sheet at the Vitality was his 17th of the season and secured him the Premier League Golden Glove.

“It tells something about the team because we defend with 11,” Ten Hag said. “We are playing out of a good plan. But of course, in the end, we have a very good goalkeeper. He saved a lot of good opportunities from the opposition. He has done a really good job once again.”

The Red Devils could confirm Champions League qualification on Thursday evening when they host Chelsea at Old Trafford, and Ten Hag was keen to stress the importance of the fixture.

“It is a final on Thursday. I hope the fans are ready for it. We want to get it done on Thursday.

“It will not be easy, we have to be ready. We have to be front foot, have high energy levels, need to focus. We are strong, especially at Old Trafford.”

Read – Six of the best Champions League wins by English clubs

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