The Dutchman’s second season in the hot-seat began with nine defeats in 17 matches, leading pressure to mount on a side looking to avoid a first ever Old Trafford defeat to the Hatters.
But United bounced back from Wednesday’s Champions League disappointment in Copenhagen as Lindelof’s second-half strike proved enough to secure a 1-0 win against Rob Edwards’ well-drilled side.
Strong at the back ✔️Scores the winner ✔️
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) November 11, 2023
It was not the prettiest victory for Ten Hag’s under-fire team but felt key heading into the November internationals – a period when Sir Jim Ratcliffe could finalise a deal to become minority shareholder.
There were protests against the Glazer family before kick-off and chants against the United owners throughout Saturday’s match, which saw Sir Alex Ferguson’s return after his wife’s death last month.
The former United boss will have not enjoyed large periods of the game, but defender Lindelof – in for the injured Jonny Evans – at least ensured a forgettable afternoon ended with three points.
Unfancied Luton were on the backfoot from the outset at Old Trafford, where thankfully there was no kind of grim chants like those heard during last week’s match against Liverpool.
Luton boss Edwards stuck with the same side that impressively secured a 1-1 draw against Jurgen Klopp’s Reds and had to batten down the hatches early doors.
Town goalkeeper Thomas Kaminski was an impressive last line of defence throughout and spread himself well to prevent Rasmus Hojlund scoring his first Premier League goal from a deflected Marcus Rashford cross.
Scott McTominay headed over, Alejandro Garnacho curled over and Gabe Osho deflected a Rashford stinger just wide of his own goal as the one-way traffic continued.
But United’s frustration grew as the half wore on. Chiedozie Ogbene’s shot from distance was easily dealt with, but Andre Onana had to be alert to brilliantly stop a powerful Carlton Morris header in the 36th minute.
The United goalkeeper denied Andros Townsend’s hopeful follow-up and there were groans when dilly-dallying Garnacho was closed out at the other end.
Hojlund glanced a Bruno Fernandes free-kick across the face of goal four minutes after the restart and on top United finally made their pressure count in the 59th minute.
Morris prodded a low Fernandes corner clear, but a deflection sent it to Mount and the substitute played it straight onto Rashford on the right-hand side of the box.
The forward took a touch before driving in a ball that was stopped on the edge of the six-yard box, falling nicely for Lindelof to hammer home in front of the Stretford End.
United should have wrapped up a much-needed victory 11 minutes later.
Antony’s introduction in place of Garnacho was met by a smattering of boos but the often ineffective Brazil international did well to slip Rashford in.
The 26-year-old looked well-placed to finish but fired straight at Kaminski – the kind of chance he would have buried last season.
Injured Alfie Doughty had to be replaced as Luton sought a leveller, with Hojlund soon going off with an issue of his own.
United managed the game well in the closing stages – not something they have been particularly known for.
McTominay saw an effort stopped, Diogo Dalot drove over and Fernandes failed with a free-kick. Ten Hag was booked in stoppage time, which ended with home cheers.