Cristiano Ronaldo steps up as Manchester United down Villarreal in stoppage time
Cristiano Ronaldo capped his record-breaking Champions League appearance by firing Manchester United to a stunning late comeback win against Europa League final foes Villarreal.
Just four months on from the penalty shoot-out loss to Unai Emery’s side in Gdańsk, the sides met again, with the Red Devils needing to make up for their shock defeat at Young Boys in the Group F opener.
A disjointed United were staring down the barrel of a third straight home defeat in all competitions when Paco Alcacer deservedly put Villarreal ahead.
However, Alex Telles’ sublime volley gave Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side hope and Ronaldo secured a 2-1 win in stoppage time, sending Old Trafford wild on the night he broke Iker Casillas’ all-time Champions League appearances record.
It was a box-office end to his 178th appearance in the competition and a relief to all those connected with United, after David De Gea had to produce some superb saves to keep Villarreal at bay in a one-sided first half.
The Spaniards continued to threaten after the break and finally capitalised on the hosts’ issues defending down the right early in the second period, with Alcacer turning home the impressive Arnaut Danjuma’s cross.
Ronaldo did very little throughout the game, even appearing to tire in the latter stages, but an aerial pass into the box fell to Lingard, who lost his footing, but the ball fortuitously to Ronaldo who fired the ball into the back of the net.
Relief reigned at Old Trafford at the full-time whistle, and victory takes United onto three points ahead of two matches against Atalanta, with their hopes of qualification now being much stronger courtesy of Ronaldo.