Villarreal vs Manchester United: Ronaldo, Sancho secure Champions League last 16 spot

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Villarreal vs Manchester United ended in a late away win as managerless United reached the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League.

[ MORE: Stats, box score ]

David de Gea made fine stops in both halves to keep United in it, then caretaker coach Michael Carrick brought on subs and Cristiano Ronaldo and Jadon Sancho delivered late goals to seal the win.

A few days after Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was fired, United did him proud as they secured a spot in the last 16.

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From Fred’s impressive display in central midfield to Ronaldo finishing, Sancho coming to life and De Gea pulling off great saves, plenty of United players stood tall and there looked to be a clear plan.

After weathering a Villarreal storm, this was a savvy display from United and things could look very different in February when the UEFA Champions League last 16 rolls around.


Villarreal vs Manchester United stats, final score

Villarreal 0-2 Manchester United

Goals scored: Ronaldo 78′ Sancho 90′

Shots: Villarreal 13, Manchester United 11

Shots on target: Villarreal 3, Manchester United 6

Possession: Villarreal 52, Manchester United 48


De Gea keeps United in it

Villarreal saw a lot of the ball in the first half and the closest United came to scoring was a set piece which was headed wide by Scott McTominay.

Moi Gomez had a deflected effort wide and Arnaut Danjuma was a threat, while the lively Yeremi Pino and Manu Trigueros caused problems but De Gea stood tall.

The hosts looked more dangerous and dictated the tempo of the game and in the second half United dropped deeper and deeper.

De Gea denied a bouncing effort from Trigueros superbly as Villarreal pushed hard for the winner.

How the game swung in United’s favor

Marcus Rashford and Bruno Fernandes were then sent on to try and change the tempo of the game late on.

And they did.

The substitutes had an instant impact as Fernandes played in Sancho but he was denied superbly by Geronimo Rulli.

United won it with less than 15 minutes to go as Fred stepped high to win the ball back and Ronaldo lobbed the ball over a stranded Rulli to send United’s traveling fans wild and his team into the last 16 of the Champions League.

What a finish.

Ronaldo, Marcus Rashford and Fernandes almost added to the score late on and then Sancho did.

Fred pressed high and won the ball back, again, as the ball found its way to Sancho and he rifled home a brilliant effort to score his first goal in a Manchester United shirt.

Carrick got his tactics spot on and United look set to win Group F, but the most important thing is they’re in the last 16 of the Champions League.

What happens next, nobody knows. But this was a solid start to the post-Solskjaer era.