Ronaldo rescues ‘lucky’ Man Utd from more Villarreal misery, with a 95th minute winner

Friday, October 1st, 2021 04:00 |
Man United’s Portuguese striker Cristiano Ronaldo during their UEFA Champions league group F match against Villarreal at Old Trafford stadium in Manchester, on Wednesday night. Manchester United won the match 2-1. Photo/AFP

Manchester, Thursday

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer admitted Manchester United “got lucky” after Cristiano Ronaldo marked his record-breaking 178th Champions League appearance with a 95th-minute winner to beat Villarreal 2-1 at Old Trafford on Wednesday.

The five-time Ballon d’Or winner had barely threatened until he fired past Geronimo Rulli for his fifth goal in as many games since returning to United.

Solskjaer’s men were staring down the barrel of another embarrassing group stage exit from the Champions League after deservedly falling behind early in the second half to Paco Alcacer’s smart finish.

Alex Telles’ stunning strike quickly levelled, but they looked set to drop more points in Group F until Ronaldo’s late intervention.

Despite the result, there was little in the performance to quell the growing questions as to whether Solskjaer is the man to get the best out of a squad of supremely talented individuals that are yet to click as a collective.

“That’s what happens at Old Trafford, we had to throw caution to the wind and got lucky in the end,” said Solskjaer.

“When you’ve got Cristiano on the pitch there is always a chance.” Ronaldo’s late show beat Solskjaer’s famous strike to win the Champions League in 1999 as United’s latest winning goal in the competition.

However, for most of the 95 minutes Villarreal were the better side and were left to rue not taking their chances as they sit bottom of the group on one point from two games.

“We’re annoyed. The game was basically over, we just needed to see it out and we didn’t,” said Villarreal defender Pau Torres. “We were impeccable before that.

We took the lead, were creating chance and were better than Man United at Old Trafford.”

United were without three of their first-choice back four with Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw sidelined by injury, while Aaron Wan-Bissaka was suspended after being sent off in the 2-1 defeat to Young Boys on matchday one.

A makeshift defence looked as such in the first half as Villarreal wasted a host of chances to inflict more misery on the Red Devils after beating them in May to win the Europa League.

De Gea was the fall guy in the Europa League final as he was the only player of the 22 on both sides to fail to score in a marathon penalty shootout. -AFP

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