Man Utd were second best most of the night against Villarreal, but Ronaldo popped up late to steal three points in the Champions League.
Scott McTominay got the start in the six with Paul Pogba next to him in the midfield. Jadon Sancho and Mason Greenwood flanked Cristiano Ronaldo. Victor Lindelof came in for the injured Harry Maguire. Alex Telles and Diogo Dalot were the fullback options.
Villarreal were unlucky not to score in the first half and found plenty of joy attacking Dalot. Arnaut Danjuma consistently beat the Portuguese, but could not find the final pass or shot needed to beat David de Gea.
Paco Alcacer had a golden opportunity to put Villarreal ahead midway though the half after a Raphael Varane miscue played the Spanish striker, his shot was wide. De Gea would be called into action again before halftime.
Pau Torres went on a run that beat multiple Man Utd defenders. The ball was rotated to Yeremi Pino, his shot from inside the box was saved by de Gea.
Man Utd had some good moments and were able to get some corners in the half, but they could not break down Villarreal. United had some moments on the counter. The final ball was missing in the first half.
Second Half Goals
Villarreal got on the board first in the second half. Danjuma got played in behind the Man Utd defense, his squared pass found Alcacer who finished well. Nothing de Gea could do on the shot and Man Utd found themselves down 1-0 early in the second half.
It would take only three minutes for Man Utd to respond. A beautiful Telles goal off of a set-piece found the corner of the goal. Bruno Fernandes took the free-kick on the right side of the box. A tough angle for a shot, instead he crossed to Telles outside the box was beautifully taken by Telles.
Man Utd had a chance to take a lead immediately after with Jadon Sancho. His open shot was scuffed and he let the Villarreal keeper off the hook. Both teams would settle down a bit after the early flurry in the second half.
Villarreal and Man Utd both had some half chances to win the game, but it was Ronaldo who found the back of the net in the final minute of the game. Fred’s cross was knocked down to Jesse Lingard by Ronaldo. Lingard played it back to Ronaldo who finished from an acute angle.
Man Utd Player Ratings
Everyone starts off with a 6. David de Gea, man of the match.
David de Gea: 8, Best player for Man Utd on the pitch tonight. If it was not for some big saves late in the game and in the first half United would not have had the chance to win it late.
Raphael Varane: 6.5, Varane had that horrible mistake that let in Alcacer. He should have dealt with that with no problem. Passed the ball okay at times. As a whole the defense did well for most of the match. Partnered good with Lindelof.
Victor Lindelof: 7, Best defender on the pitch tonight. Got beat over the top by a ball that found Danjuma, both him and Dalot’s fault. If Varane did not make that glaring mistake, it would be closer to even. Lindelof did well covering for Dalot when he would get beat. Mistake free match, solid performance from the Swede.
Diogo Dalot: 5, Rough night for Dalot, Danjuma beat him bad on the night. Some decent passes at times helped him out. Over cooked some crosses, did not offer much overlap help for Greenwood. Tough night.
Alex Telles: 7, Gets a 7 for the goal, did not get attacked by Pino much. Had some good crosses and passes. Amazing goal that got the crowd back in the match. Something everyone needed. Other than that quiet night.
Scott McTominay: 6.5, Did what he was supposed to do. A couple of times and on the goal Villarreal got in between the lines when he was too high up the pitch. Pogba’s fault for that too. Played smart passes, did not take much risk. Safe night for McTominay.
Paul Pogba: 6.5, Similar game as McTominay. Played some good passes, did not offer a whole lot other than some good passes that could not be turned into anything by the attacking players. Ole did well subbing him off when he did.
Bruno Fernandes: 7.5, Looked great on the night. Made a lot of good runs, played good passes and was energetic all night. Great pass on the set-piece to set up Telles for the goal.
Cristiano Ronaldo: 7, Game winning goal gives him the 7. Quiet night, no service for Ronaldo much of the match. Took his only real chance well.
Mason Greenwood: 6, Pretty harsh for Greenwood, he did win the free-kick that set up Telles. Other than that, nothing much. He worked hard and was not overly selfish. Average performance.
Jadon Sancho: 6, Same for Sancho. He looked good on the ball at times, but neither did anything to create any solid chances. Had some flashes, but not enough.
Subs: 7, Cavani came in and worked hard. Fred and Lingard helped create the goal for Ronaldo. Matic played well too when he came on. Good performances and substitutions from the Man Utd bench.