It looked like history was going to repeat itself yet again at Old Trafford last night, with Man Utd and Villarreal drawing, yet again, with neither team really threatening to make a clear chance to get a winner in the dying embers, but it was that man, Mr Champions League, Cristiano Ronaldo who came up clutch for Man Utd as he scored in the 95th minute of the game to complete the comeback for Man Utd and to secure their first win of this seasons Champions League group stages.
Cristiano Ronaldo on his winner against Villarreal: “This is why I came back – I miss this club a lot — I have history with this club and I want to do it again, not only for me but to push the team.”
Solskjaer was forced to make some changes in this game, brining in Dalot for the suspended Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof came in for the injured Harry Maguire and Alex Telles came in also for the injured Luke Shaw; this saw quite an attacking line up put out by Ole, playing Pogba and McTominay in the midfield pivot with a front four of Sancho, Fernandes, Greenwood and Ronaldo.
Unai Emery set up his team in a 4-3-3 shape, but it was mostly a 4-5-1 without the ball, he started Rulli in goal, Foyth, Torres, Albiol and Alberto Moreno as the back four, a midfield three of Capoue, Parejo and Trigueros and a front three of Danjuma, Alcacer and Pino.
Villarreal definitely started the game the better side, easily cutting through United’s midfield and exposing the defensive weakness of both United’s full backs, Ex-Bournmouth winger Danjuma had multiple opportunities early in the game, easily escaping Dalot multiple times and getting a few shots away and if it wasn’t for De Gea, United could’ve easily been a few goals down very early.
United again really struggled to create any good chances against a very stringent Villareal defence, with the closest Man Utd coming to scoring in the first half being, ex-Liverpool defender, Alberto Moreno nearly putting the ball into his own net after a miscommunication between him and his keeper.
The second half started just like the first half, with Villarreal being able to breeze past United’s full backs, but this time they were able to make them pay, Dalot unable to cut out a pass to Danjuma, who was on the by-line and had time to pick out a pass into the box to Alcacer, who ran between the United defenders to get to the ball first and poke into the back of the net to give the visitors the lead.
United responded quite well, with the first goal coming on the hour mark, a free kick just outside the penalty area, on the right hand side by-line was taken by Bruno Fernandes who spotted Alex Telles free on the edge of the box, and a perfectly weighted ball was give to Telles who volleyed the ball back across goal into the far corner to net his first United goal and to bring United back level.
Bruno Fernandes: “I always had the feeling we could win the game. And when they scored I felt we could come again and turn it around. After the goal of Alex [Telles] the push from the fans was unbelievable.”
There were a few chances for both teams to score late on in the game, United came close with Cavani, a whipped cross from Greenwood from the right hand side found Cavani free at the back post, whose header failed to hit the target.
Villarreal’s late chance came yet again from United’s full backs failure to defend, Dalot let his man cut inside onto his strong foot, whose shot was parried by De Gea, it bounced of a Villarreal player, whose rebound was saved yet again, then a goal mouth scramble ensued and United were able to get the ball clear.
United’s big moment came in the 95th minute, good work down the left hand side by Cavani to hold off tackles from his defender, and good play from Bruno found Fred, who came on at left back, and his cross found Ronaldo at the back post, his header found Lingard who played a very good flick back to him, and at a very tight angle, Ronaldo shots goes in to send Old Trafford into pandemonium.
Cristiano Ronaldo: “Another chapter, another beautiful chapter, so I’m so happy to score the winning goal — the most appearances in history and to score a goal. A great night. I have to mention the attitude of the team which is the most important [thing] here.”
This win puts United into 3rd place in Group F, behind Atalanta who are on four points, they are level on points with BSC Young Boys, both being on three points, but Young Boys have the head-to-head record over United, and Villarreal are sitting last on one point.
Solskjær: “It is a massive result for the team and the spirit of the team as well. We gave ourselves a difficult job with the sending off in the last game so to get three points at home is important – now we need to get to 10 or maybe 12 to get through.”
Even though United won the game in the most dramatic fashion, it was an overall poor performance in a string of poor performances over the last few weeks, the midfield of McTominay and Pogba was very easily to play through for Villarreal and even though they wouldn’t be Ole’s first choice, the full backs were very susceptible defensively and caused a lot of problems for United.
United’s next fixture is a lunch time kick off this Saturday against Rafa Benitez’s Everton, who will have a very similar style to this Villarreal team, being compact in defence and breaking on the counter with their quick wingers, meaning for this upcoming game Solskjaer will have to play to a much higher standard if they want to get a result against a very good Everton side.