Solskjaer salutes Bailly after ‘fantastic’ late block in Manchester United win over Aston Villa

The Ivory Coast international produced a solid defensive performance as the Red Devils extended their unbeaten league run to 10 games on Friday

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is full of praise for Eric Bailly after his defensive contribution helped the Red Devils to a 2-1 victory over Aston Villa on New Year’s Day.

Bailly threw his body at a shot from substitute Keinan Davis in the closing stages to help Manchester United seal all three points, with Bruno Fernandes scoring the match-winning goal after Burkina Faso’s Bertrand Traore cancelled out Anthony Martial’s opener.

The defender won the most clearances (six) and one further interception at Old Trafford on Friday, and  was surrounded by his teammates at the game’s conclusion as they applauded him for his crucial block.

Solskjaer, in his reaction, disclosed that the 26-year-old defender, who started their last three Premier League games, deserves the ovation he is getting.

“You can see today his physicality, his pace and his bravery is second to none really,” Solskjaer was quoted by Manchester Evening News. “He’s got a style of play that’s caused him to get injured a few times and probably muscle fibers have caused some injuries as well.

“You can see how much it means to him but also for the rest of the boys at the end of the game, because he is such a well-liked player and man in the dressing room.

“Everyone wants him to do well and knows the struggles he’s had and we’re delighted for him.”

Since their 1-0 defeat to Arsenal in November, Manchester United are unbeaten in the English top flight, and they are now level on 33 points with leaders Liverpool after 16 matches.

Solskjaer described how his team survived the nervy finish, with David de Gea and Bailly’s impact highlighted.

“Then towards the end, David [de Gea] makes a good save and Eric makes a fantastic block and we saw it out one way or another,” the Norwegian manager added. “Sometimes you’ve got to find a way to win.

“We could have managed the last 10 minutes better but we got it over the line.

“I’m very happy with the position we’ve found ourselves in. It’s such a big difference, if you look 12 months back. You lose the chance to be there or thereabouts in the first 10 games, you can’t lose the chance to be in the title race.”