Man United secure late EPL win at Fulham

For Erik ten Hag, the goal that sent Manchester United into the World Cup break on a high note is the perfect symbol of the progress his team has made in recent months.

In the last Premier League game before the tournament in Qatar, substitute Alejandro Garnacho came off the bench to score a stoppage-time winner that secured a 2-1 victory at Fulham on Sunday.

Despite a poor start under Ten Hag, with United losing their first two games, the team is now three points off fourth-placed Tottenham with a game in hand.

And the football is improving, too, despite being without a number of starters - including Cristiano Ronaldo, who missed a second straight game with an undisclosed illness but is expected to be fit for the World Cup.

"We have a base. We're going in the right direction, the culture has changed," Ten Hag said.

"The attitude, the mentality has changed and that's good. Also now we improve our football base.

"We have got a better mentality and (what) you see today is the symbol of it - when you get the win in the last dying seconds of the game."

The goal was also quite a statement by Garnacho, who has been criticised in the past for his attitude in training but showed his sublime talent by playing a clever one-two with Christian Eriksen on the edge of the box before running into the area to slot home past Bernd Leno just before the final whistle.

"We have seen in training that he is a big, big talent," Eriksen said.

"He is starting to learn the movement of the game - when to dribble, when to pass but he's a big talent."

Eriksen had put United ahead after 14 minutes following a well-worked quick break; the Denmark international on hand at the far post to steer a deflected shot by Bruno Fernandes into the empty net.

Fulham, without star striker Aleksandar Mitrovic due to a foot problem, still managed to peg the visitors back for large parts of the game and netted a deserved equaliser when former United winger Daniel James turned in a low cross from close range.

But while Fulham pushed for a winner, United's strength on the counter proved decisive and Garnacho's goal gives Ten Hag a solid platform going into the second half of the season.

"We are now united, we have togetherness," Ten Hag said.

"The dressing room, the staff, the directors, the whole club and the fans. There's a togetherness and I'm really happy with that."

In the EPL's early game, Unai Emery made it two wins out of two since taking over from the fired Steven Gerrard as his Aston Villa side recovered from conceding in the opening minute to beat Brighton 2-1.

It was Villa's first away win of the season and comes on the heels of the 3-1 victory over Manchester United in Emery's debut last weekend.

"It was a difficult match, tough defensively (and) we had to be together," Emery said.

"We had some players out but really, the job was fantastic."

Danny Ings scored both goals for Villa, equalising with a first-half penalty and then netting the winner in the 54th minute with a low deflected shot that snuck inside the near post.