Manchester United won 2-1 over Villarreal on Wednesday at Old Trafford thanks to an injury-time goal from Cristiano Ronaldo. Villarreal were the superior team, but sports can be brutal at times.
Meanwhile, United’s hopes were preserved by home goalie David de Gea, who made many spectacular saves. Paco Alcacer scored for The Yellow Submarine to break the tie in the second half, but Alex Telles responded with a spectacular volley to force overtime.
The Portuguese superstar, who had been somewhat quiet until that point, scored with essentially the last kick of the game, rescuing a possible draw.
Villarreal Absolutely Dominated the Opening Half.
All along the left side, Arnaut Danjuma was giving Diogo Dalot a tonne of trouble. De Gea’s strong left arm blocked the low, hard effort that the Dutchman had on goal after cutting in from the left side of the penalty area.
Later on, the 24-year-old again went up against Dalot and provided a cross for Alcacer to score. De Gea made a diving save at the near post, deflecting a header from the Spanish striker.
At the half hour mark, Alcacer had a breakaway opportunity after Raphael Varane misplayed a long pass from Etienne Capoue, but the 28-year-old was in a rush and skewed his shot wide.
Yéremi Pino took another shot in the first half, but De Gea was able to parry away his left-footed, ground-based attempt. Only two of the home team’s eight shots in the first half were on target.
Cristiano Ronaldo’s Dramatic Second Half
Meanwhile, Unai Emery’s team took the lead for good eight minutes into the second half. Alcacer scored when Miguel Trigueros threaded a pass past Danjuma on the left side of the penalty box. Alcacer’s shot went between De Gea’s legs.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s squad stepped up their effort after scoring, but they were still having trouble creating scoring opportunities. The long range shot made by Captain Bruno Fernandes missed the mark. A minute later, Fernandes took a free kick on the right side of the field and curled it toward Telles on the left side of the penalty area.
The Brazilian left back volleyed a ball with such force that it beat Villarreal’s goalkeeper Geronimo Rulli. That goal marked the 28-year-debut old’s with Manchester United.
The Home Team Wanted a Win Badly.
When Lingard tried to score at the far post from a Ronaldo cross from the right, Rulli made a diving save. Ronaldo headed Fred’s cross down for Lingard in the fifth minute of stoppage time, and Lingard did well to hold off the defender and send the ball back to the Portuguese icon. The crowd erupted in chaos after the 36-year-old slid the ball past Rulli at the near post.
Solskjaer characterised the outcome as “huge” for the team and its morale. “We gave ourselves a difficult job with the sending off in the last game” (Aaron Wan-Bissaka in the defeat at Young Boys), “so to earn three points at home is crucial – now we need to get to 10 or maybe 12 to get through.”
Ronaldo set a new record by playing in this tournament for the 178th time. Solskjr remarked, “He has done that so many times.”
When Portugal played Ireland a few weeks ago, he missed an early penalty, didn’t touch the ball much, and then scored two wonderful headers in the game’s final two minutes. Because he is so mentally tough, he has done that consistently throughout his career.
With three points from two games thanks to the win, Manchester United are tied for third with Young Boys in Group F. With four points, Atalanta has a commanding lead over their competition.