Alejandro Garnacho came off the bench to score a stoppage-time winner as Manchester United signed off for the World Cup break with a dramatic 2-1 win at Fulham on Sunday.
Erik ten Hag's team hit the front through Christian Eriksen's first United goal early on, but they looked set to be denied by their former winger Dan James when he levelled within two minutes of entering the fray.
Fulham appeared the more likely winners from there as United relied on a string of saves from David de Gea, but Garnacho slotted home three minutes into stoppage time to stun Craven Cottage.
The 18-year-old's composed finish lifted United to within three points of the Premier League's top four, ensuring the Red Devils entered the six-week hiatus in positive mood.
De Gea saved from Carlos Vinicius as Fulham threatened early on, but United went ahead after 14 minutes when Bruno Fernandes crossed for Eriksen, who steered home from close range.
Though Fulham continued to enjoy long spells of possession, Anthony Martial missed two chances to double United's lead before the break, forcing a one-on-one save from Bernd Leno before nodding Luke Shaw's cross over.
Eriksen then stabbed narrowly wide as half-time approached, before De Gea produced reflex saves to deny Vinicius and Tim Ream as Fulham stepped up their search for a leveller after the break.
However, the Spaniard's resistance was finally broken after 61 minutes, with Fulham substitute James pouncing on Tom Cairney's cross to poke home a deserved equaliser.
United then spent long periods pinned back as Fulham continued to press, but there was to be one final twist as Garnacho raced onto Eriksen's pass before side-footing beyond Leno, breaking Fulham hearts at the last.
What does it mean? United sign off with crucial win
Wins for Tottenham and Newcastle United on Saturday meant United required a victory in west London to stay within touching distance of the top four ahead of the World Cup break.
However, Ten Hag's team looked likely to lose ground when James became just the 10th player to score a Premier League goal against United having previously represented them in the competition, but the visitors dug deep to find a winner.
United have now won each of their last six Premier League games at Fulham, and when the Premier League resumes during the festive period, they will restart three points behind Spurs with a game in hand.
Garnacho the hero
Garnacho is viewed as one of United's most exciting young prospects, and the Argentine's reputation will only have been enhanced by his dramatic intervention on Sunday.
At 18 years and 135 days old, Garnacho became the youngest player to score a last-minute winner in the Premier League since Federico Macheda did so against Aston Villa, also for United, in April 2009 (aged 17 years, 226 days).
Eriksen off the mark
Eriksen's first-half strike was his first in a United shirt, on what was his 20th appearance for the club. The Denmark international was then influential in Garnacho's winner, producing a perfectly weighted pass to put the teenager through on goal.
The midfielder's opener made him the first Danish player to score for the Red Devils since legendary goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel did so against Rotor Volgograd in the UEFA Cup back in September 1995.
Key Opta Facts
United have won more away Premier League games in London than any other side visiting a team in the capital in the competition’s history (77).
Fulham have won just two of their last 26 Premier League games against Man Utd (D5 L19) and are winless in 14 against them since picking up back-to-back victories in 2009.
United have scored first in 21 Premier League meetings with Fulham, avoiding defeat in each of those games (W17 D4).
James became the 10th different player to score against United in the Premier League having previously appeared for them in the competition (also Danny Welbeck, Dion Dublin, Fraizer Campbell, Henning Berg, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Keith Gillespie, Mark Hughes, Paul Ince, Wilfried Zaha).
United are next in action when they host Burnley in an EFL Cup last-16 tie in the week following the World Cup final on December 18. Meanwhile, Fulham go to Crystal Palace for their next Premier League match on December 26.