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The Guardian - UK
The Guardian - UK
Nick Ames at Kenilworth Road

Rasmus Højlund will ‘score even more’ for Manchester United, says Ten Hag

Erik ten Hag gives instructions from the touchline.
Erik ten Hag gives instructions from the touchline. Photograph: Peter Cziborra/Action Images/Reuters

Erik ten Hag said Rasmus Højlund’s hot streak is just the start after the striker continued his outstanding form with both goals in Manchester United’s 2-1 win at Luton.

United moved five points shy of fourth-placed Aston Villa and three behind Tottenham, in fifth, thanks to Højlund’s early strikes. Nobody has scored in six successive top‑flight games at a younger age and it is a far cry from a stuttering start by the £72m signing, who did not break his ­Premier League duck until ­Boxing Day. Ten Hag praised his ­resilience and predicted further heroics from the Dane.

“We recruited him on his charac­ter,” Ten Hag said of the 21-year-old. “I knew it was strong. He can really perform under stress and that is something you need as a Manchester United striker. He doesn’t get nervous or lose confidence. He has a lot of confidence and I’m sure he will score even more.

“He needed support but he kept calm. He was unlucky at the start. You see he’s a fighter, he keeps going. There are many areas where he can improve but his scoring ­ability is clear.”

Ten Hag said Casemiro and Harry Maguire were substituted at half-time because of the yellow cards both players had picked up during what, after Carlton Morris had scored for Luton, became a high octane first half. “I think the game was going in a direction where there was a lot of pressure on the refe­ree and both were a risk for another booking,” he said. “We have good replacements so that’s why we took them off.”

Casemiro had been fortunate not to receive a second caution for fouling Ross Barkley but Ten Hag said that would not have been just and appeared to claim his midfielder was being targeted by officials.

“Even when he is not touching opponents he gets booked,” he said. “Often at the first moment of the game as well. I think it’s crazy and it was so unfair, that first booking. The second could have been so that’s why I took him off. He touches an ­opponent and he gets booked.”

The Luton manager, Rob Edwards, took a different view. “The fact he came off at half-time probably tells you [that he had been lucky],” he said. “They’re saying the first one wasn’t, but just because the first one wasn’t it doesn’t mean the second one isn’t. So maybe they got away with one there.”

Luton remain a point above the rele­gation zone. “I thought we looked like a really good team,” Edwards said. “I’m proud of many aspects of that performance, especially after a lot of adversity early on.”

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