Manchester United 2, Villarreal 1 (Champions League)
Cristiano Ronaldo scored a 95th minute winning goal that changed Manchester United’s Champions League fortunes against Villarreal.
The Yellow Submarine had looked set to escape from Old Trafford with another creditable draw after Paco Alcacer’s strike was cancelled out by Alex Telles’ volley.
But despite deserving at least a point Villarreal had to accept their first defeat in six games against United who hadn’t beaten the Spanish club before – 4 0-0 draws and a painful Europa League final defeat in Gdansk was wiped away with another famous victory powered by the Portuguese forward.
Red boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will more than accept that United were lucky today to get their Champions League campaign under way – they are still third in their group with a double header against Atalanta to come.Embed from Getty Images
Solskjaer made four changes from the shock defeat at home to Aston Villa – Aaron Wan-Bissaka was suspended for this game and the next game against Atalanta after being sent off against Young Boys.
He was joined on the sidelines by Fred and the injured Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw.
Replacing them were Diogo Dalot, Victor Lindelof, Alex Telles, and Jadon Sancho.
Arnaut Danjuma, Paco Alcacer, and Yeremi Pino had the clearest chances on goal in the first half and the Spanish side should have converted at least one of these while the Reds were reduced to long range efforts from Paul Pogba and Bruno Fernandes
All the major action happened in 7 second half minutes when Alcacer slid in to convert Danjuma’s left wing cross after 53 minutes.
And seven minutes later, against the run of play, United equalised through a set piece when Bruno Fernandes’ free kick from the right edge of the penalty area found Alex Telles in the perfect position to hit a low volley inside in the near post from 20 yards out.
United had looked out of ideas despite improving in the final quarter of the game but Villarreal deserved their point until Ronaldo took even that away from them with his 14th goal in 20 games against them.
PLAYER RATINGS – Manchester United 2, Villarreal 1 (Champions League)
David De Gea: 8. Twice saved from Arnaut Danjuma early on and stopped a Paco Alcacer header. Kept United in the game with late saves from Moi Gomez and Boulaye Dia.
Diogo Dalot: 5. Didn’t do much defending down his flank allowing Villarreal to attack his side relentlessly.
Victor Lindelof: 6. Not much protection from the right as Villarreal flooded forwards.
Raphael Varane: 6. Good distribution and smooth defending.
Alex Telles: 7. Offered little defensively but scored a wonderful volley to open his United account from a set piece.
Paul Pogba: 6. Sat too deep but did force United’s first shot on target after 38 minutes with a long range effort. Tried plenty of long passes but not all of them came off and he was replaced by Nemanja Matic late on.
Scott McTominay: 6. Villarreal’s danger came down the flanks, had a shot straight at Geronimo Rulli in added time when he finally ventured forward.
Mason Greenwood: 7. Improved during the game and looked like United’s best outlet despite being starved of service – put in a great cross for Edinson Cavani late on.
Bruno Fernandes: 7. Backed vocally by the fans, blazed over early but kept going.
Jadon Sancho: 6. Showed good pace against ex-Spurs fullback Juan Foyth but since again not on same wavelength as team mates again.
Cristiano Ronaldo: 6. Generous in his passing but wayward in his shots. Went looking for the ball too soon as service dried up but was ready to pounce right at the end when it mattered.
Edinson Cavani (on for Jadon Sancho, 75): 6. Cheered on by the hone crowd. Headed wide from the great cross from the right by Mason Greenwood and chased down a lost cause, giving United the energy to fight back to the end.
Nemanja Matic (on for Paul Pogba): 6. On to shore up the defence. But a wonderful galloping run late on almost set up a chance for United.
Fred (on for Alex Telles, 89): no time to mark.
Jesse Lingard (on for Jadon Sancho, 89): Did the 1-2 with Ronaldo to allow him to score the last minute winner.
GOALS – Manchester United 2, Villarreal 1 (Champions League)
Man Utd 0, Villarreal 1: 53. Paco Alcacer stabbed home from 4 yards after Arnaut Danjuma put in a great cross from the left into the six yard box.
Man Utd 1, Villarreal 1: 60. Alex Telles volleyed inside the near post from 20 yards out after he got on the end of Bruno Fernandes’ free kick from the right edge of the area
Man Utd 2, Villarreal 1: 90+5. Who else but Cristiano Ronaldo, who had cut an isolated figured throughout the game but popped up right at the end to tap in after exchanging passes with Jesse Lingard.
MATCH STATS – Manchester United 2, Villarreal 1 (Champions League)
Man Utd: De Gea, Dalot, Varane, Lindelof, Telles (Fred 89), Pogba (Matic 75), McTominay, Greenwood (Lingard 89), Fernandes, Sancho (Cavani 75), Ronaldo
Man Utd subs not used: Heaton, Henderson, Bailly, Mata, Martial, van de Beek, Elanga
Bookings: Greenwood 68 (shirt pull on Boulaye Dia); Telles 71 (foul on Yeremi Pino); Ronaldo 90+5 (taking shirt off, over celebration)
Goals: Telles 60; Ronaldo 90+5
Villarreal: Rulli, Foyth, Albiol (Mandi 73), Torres, A Moreno (Pena 73), Parejo, Capoue, Trigueros (Estupinan 61), Pino (Gomez 73), Alcacer (Dia 58), Danjuma
Villarreal subs not used: Asenjo, Jorgensen, Gaspar, Iborra, Pedraza, Iosifov
Bookings: A Moreno 59, Pinot 67 (Foul on Alex Telles), Albiol 68 (foul on Ronaldo); Pena 90+1 (foul on Scott McTominay)
Goal: Alcacer 53
Referee: Felix Zwayer