Cristiano Ronaldo scored a last-gasp winner while David de Gea was top-class in goal as Manchester United beat Villarreal 2-1 in the UEFA Champions League.
In what was an enticing end-to-end affair at Old Trafford both teams looked dangerous going forward, but it was Villarreal who had the better chances in the first period courtesy of several deadly counterattacks with David de Gea having to pull off several saves to deny Arnaut Danjuma and Paco Alcacer, while the latter also missed a good chance after a mistake from Paco Alcacer.
At the other end, the closest Manchester United came was when Villarreal defender Alberto Moreno almost put the ball into the back of his own net. More of the same continued after the break and the visitors finally broke the deadlock with Alcacer diverting Danjuma’s cross into the net in the 53rd minute.
Spurred on after going behind, Manchester United upped the ante and were back on level terms at the hour mark with Alex Telles unleashing a spectacular volley from outside the box. Jadon Sancho could have put the hosts in front, but failed to connect properly with his strike while substitute Edinson Cavani sent a header wide.
At the other end, de Gea came to United’s save yet again producing a fine double save to deny Moi Gomez and Boulaye Dia, before Telles made a crucial block to stop the latter’s follow-up effort. And just when it looked like the game will end in a draw, Cristiano Ronaldo changed the script in ‘Fergie Time’, scoring the winning goal four minutes into stoppage time to send Old Trafford into a euphoria.
The result means Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men picked up their first win of the Champions League this season, although they remain third in the group. Here are our player ratings for all Manchester United stars following another nerve-wracking victory at Old Trafford.
David de Gea: 9/10
The only reason Manchester United were still in the game at half-time, de Gea made four fine stops to deny Danjuma (twice), Alcacer and Yeremi Pino in the first half. Could not stop the goal but once again proved saviour when he pulled off a stunning double save to deny Gomez and Dia late in the game with the score at 1-1. Back to his best.
David de Gea’s game by numbers vs. Villarreal:
23 total touches
14 passes attempted
14 passes completed
7 shots faced
6 shots saved [all inside the box]
His importance in that win can’t be overstated. 🧤 pic.twitter.com/KSEpD70cZn
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) September 29, 2021
Diogo Dalot: 3/10
Absolutely torn apart by Danjuma from the off. Looked at sea each time the Dutchman ran at him, allowing him plenty of space to constantly cut in and have an aim at goal. Was at fault for the visitor’ opener as well. At this rate, there is no way he can challenge Aaron Wan-Bissaka for a starting spot.
Victor Lindelof: 5/10
Drafted into the side in the injury-enforced absence of captain Harry Maguire, the Swede looked edgy and uncomfortable every time Villarreal poured forward on the break. Did display some nice passes, especially after the break, but dodgy defensively.
Raphael Varane: 5/10
An important tackle early on to stop a goalscoring chance but then almost gifted Alcacer with a goal after switching off in a crucial moment. Dragged out of position in the lead-up to the opening goal. There were good bits and bad bits on the night from the Frenchman.
Alex Telles: 6.5/10
Not as peppered as Dalot on the opposite flank but Telles too had troubles defensively on the night especially in the first half. Improved after the break and got United back into the game with a thumping volley to score his first goal for the club. Then made a crucial block to deny Dia a goal at 1-1.
Alex Telles' goal from the stands, taken by the one and only Usain Bolt!
What a view. pic.twitter.com/DegtP9w0wd
— Devils of United 🔰 (@DevilsOfUnited) September 29, 2021
Scott McTominay: 5/10
Unable to contain Villarreal on the break and was overrun time and again. The partnership alongside Paul Pogba did not seem to work for Manchester United. On the ball, there were a few nice phases here and there but lacked the incision needed to cut open the visitors.
Paul Pogba: 4/10
Moved into the double pivot to partner McTominay, the Frenchman looked out of sorts throughout his time on the pitch. Tried to play defence-splitting passes but not everything worked for him. Off the ball, he was woeful as he did not offer any support while he was also guilty of giving away possession cheaply way too many times. Rightly, hooked off.
Mason Greenwood: 6/10
A game wherein he was not a constant threat and drifted in and out throughout. Did force a save from Geronimo Rulli and then produced a fine cross for Cavani, who could put the ball into the back of the net. Will see better days.
Bruno Fernandes: 6.5/10
Bruno Fernandes in European competition for Man Utd:
👕 22 appearances
⚽️ 12 goals
🅰️ 7 assists
An excellent return on the continent. 🇵🇹 pic.twitter.com/Nfadm3fxF5
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) September 29, 2021
Not at his best but the 27-year-old, who was captaining Manchester United on the night, looked the likeliest to make things happen for them in the final third. Got the assist for Telles’ goal with a beautifully worked free-kick.
Jadon Sancho: 5/10
Still struggling to come to grips with life at Manchester United, Sancho showed some bright sparks in the first period but never really amounted to anything dangerous. Had a chance to score at 1-1 but failed to take it.
Cristiano Ronaldo: 7/10
Was deprived of service for most parts of the game which meant he was not involved in much goal-mouth action. However, when the opportunity presented itself late in the contest, he grabbed it with both hands, burying the ball into the back of the net after a neat exchange with Jesse Lingard, to win it for Manchester United in Fergie Time. Difference-maker.
Ladies and gentlemen: 𝗠𝗿. 𝗖𝗵𝗮𝗺𝗽𝗶𝗼𝗻𝘀 𝗟𝗲𝗮𝗴𝘂𝗲 🌟
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) September 29, 2021
Nemanja Matic: 5/10
On for Sancho for the last 15 minutes. Added some balance and control to the team.
Edinson Cavani: 5/10
Thrown on in place of Pogba in the 75th minute. Should have scored soon after but missed a sitter. Played a role in the match-winning goal though.
On for Telles in the 89th minute. Produced the cross leading to the winning goal.
Jesse Lingard: N/A
Came on Greenwood in the 89th minute. Showed good awareness to lay the ball back into Ronaldo’s path for the winner.