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Ratings: Ronaldo and Sancho combine to give Carrick his first victory as interim manager; United though to the knockout stages of the Champions League

MacFinder

Manchester United beat Villarreal 2-0 in the Champions League, securing a round of 16 place in the competition this season, which is an improvement on last season. Michael Carrick will be happy with the victory and the clean sheet. Cristiano Ronaldo opened the scoring in the 78th minute of the match, scoring his tenth goal of the season, his sixth in five Champions League matches and his 799th career goal. Jadon Sancho doubled United’s lead in the 90th minute of the match, scoring his first goal for the club since his arrival in the summer. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s work at the club is over but look at what he’s helped to build.

United started positively in their first match led by Michael Carrick following the departure of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Scott McTominay had a header on goal in the early stages but was it was into the side netting. David De Gea was up for the challenge with Villarreal having two chances on goal in the opening ten minutes of the match. Villarreal started to take charge of the game in the first half hour, having the Lion’s share of possession and getting another shot on goal, which De Gea has to make a diving save to deny. United were playing cautiously and so far had kept their heads, which was a positive sign.

During a positive period of play, Fred seemed to injure himself, which on the replay look like he twisted his foot with his boot rooted into the pitch. He immediately went down and required treatment. However, he did not look like he was in agony and managed to get to his feet and walk off before coming back onto the pitch. Seconds later. Victor Lindelof was down with an apparent knee injury after a collision with Arnaut Danjuma, but he was fine to continue. Donny van de Beek was booked for a foul, despite winning the ball, in the 41st minute with De Gea needing to weather a free-kick, which was no real threat on his goal.

There were no changes at the start of the second half for either team, which bodes well for Fred, who must not be feeling anything from the suspected injury in the first half of the match. Villarreal were trying to get ahead in this match, as with the head to head record, with United winning earlier in the season, it would be a positive for United in the final match of the group stage regarding qualifying for the knockout stages of the competition. The Spanish side were finding it hard to break United down. Likewise for United trying to get ahead but Villarreal were enjoying a large spell on the ball with United in their own half for much of the second half so far.

De Gea made another save in the 60th minute of the match, keeping United in the match. He also weathered the corner, because he sent the ball out of play, but Villarreal were still in possession of the ball and seeking to get ahead in this match. Carrick had a number of players warming up on the sidelines after the hour mark of the match, so the time for a change was coming. Danjuma had a strike on goal in the 63rd minute of the match but his attempt was well over the crossbar and into the crowd. In the 66th minute, Carrick made a double substitution with Bruno Fernandes and Marcus Rashford replacing Donny van de Beek and Anthony Martial.

After the changes, United seemed a but more determined to get up into Villarreal’s half and threaten, which has not been the case for much of this match. Perhaps it was the right time for the changes. Jadon Sancho broke into the box in the 71st minute, but as soon as he unleashed his for the goalkeeper made the save and Villarreal were back in possession of the ball. It was the best United have done so far in the match, which is such a shame. Cristiano Ronaldo was in the Villarreal box controlling the ball with his chest, the referee suggested it was his arm and stopped play with Ronaldo unimpressed.

In the 78th minute of the match, Ronaldo found the lead for United with a sublime finish from range, scoring his tenth goal of the season so far, his sixth goal in five Champions League matches this season. It was a confidence builder for United and they will need to keep their heads and ensure it stays that way. Ronaldo almost scored his 800th career goal minutes later, hitting a diagonal ball across the face of the goal. Bruno Fernandes then had a chance on goal, which was not going to give United a two-goal cushion at this stage of the match. United got what they needed, which was the bare minimum.

Jadon Sancho got United’s second goal in the 90th minute with Bruno Fernandes getting the assist. It was a great finish from the winger, his first for the club which might take some pressure off him. Carrick made two further changes; Nemanja Matic on for Ronaldo and Juan Mata on for Sancho in added time. United will face Chelsea in the Premier League at Stamford Bridge on Sunday afternoon, which will be an important match for United to get right which could see them in a position to claw back some points and better their position in the league at this sage of the season. Come on United!

Manchester United

1 David De Gea

Managed to keep Villarreal out of his goal in the first half, which is a positive based on the attacks they had on United's goal. He's proved himself this evening with his saves and clean sheet. Onwards and upwards from here?

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29 Aaron Wan-Bissaka

Lacking confidence and this match will probably help. His passing was not the best and his thinking needs to be quicker as he took a while to offload the ball getting caught at times. Perhaps a period on the bench would help him?

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2 Victor Lindelof

Had a positive first half which showed his determination to see United succeed, making five clearances and one block. Could it be his time to shine? Held his head high in the second half as United got two goals, keeping a clean sheet.

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5 Harry Maguire

Seems to have found some form, but it is a results game, isn't it? He defended well and did what was needed. He needs to keep this form. He's been terrible for over a month now.

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27 Alex Telles

Defensively, he seemed to be caught out at times. Better going forward but needs to focus on his passing as he overhit the ball a few times. Will be rusty having not played many minutes this season.

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17 Fred

Seemed up for the challenge. Raised his game a little, perhaps? Seemed to have hurt his ankle late in the first half but recovered. Provided a lot of work rate and seems to have done what was needed against Villarreal. Positivity perhaps?

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39 Scott McTominay

Got forward at times and could have had a goal in the opening minutes, but hit the side netting. It was a solid performance that he can build on. United needed that.

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25 Jadon Sancho

Got his first goal for the club in the last minute of the match. So pleased for him. Played brilliantly, seemingly playing further back that a right-wing position. Early days in that respect though. He will find much confidence from this performance.

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34 Donny van de Beek

A positive performance. Ran his ground and sought to break through on goal at times. He's a decent player that needs to remain at the club this winter. In the 66th minute of the match he was replaced by Fernandes.

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9 Anthony Martial

Needs to do so much more to regain his starting position. I don't think he showed much in the first half of this match. He will be rusty though. Offered little in the second half and was replaced by Rashford in the 66th minute.

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7 Cristiano Ronaldo

Scored his tenth goal of the season, his sixth in five Champions League matches, which shows what a player his still is at 36. There will be people moaning about United's reliance on him but who cares about them. You can see what scoring for United means to him. Replaced by Matic in the first minute of added time.

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Substitutes

18 Bruno Fernandes

Replaced Van de Beek 66'. Got an assist for Sancho's first goal for the club. Improved United's attack considerably.

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10 Marcus Rashford

Replaced Martial 66'. As soon as he came on, United sparked into like in an attacking sense. The first goal came 12 minutes later.

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31 Nemanja Matic

Replaced Ronaldo 90+1'. Came on with two minutes of added time left. Not enough time to make an impact.

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8 Juan Mata

Replaced Sancho 90+3'. Came on at the death. Not enough time to find much involvement.

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Goals: Cristiano Ronaldo 78′, Jadon Sancho 90′

Assists: Bruno Fernandes 90′

Manchester United: De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Telles; Fred, McTominay; Sancho (Mata 90+3′), Van de Beek (Fernandes 66′), Martial (Rashford 66′); Ronaldo (Matic 90+1′)

Substitutes Not Used: Heaton, Henderson; Bailly, Dalot; Lingard; Amad

Bookings: Yeremi Pino 33′; Donny van de Beek 41′

Written by John Walker

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