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Injury-time Ronaldo goal seals 2-1 win for Man United over Villarreal
Cristiano Ronaldo struck in the fifth minute of injury time to give Manchester United a 2-1 Champions League victory over Villarreal.
In a repeat of last season’s Europa League final, won by the LaLiga side on penalties after a 1-1 draw, the Red Devils found themselves deservedly behind when Paco Alcacer scored early in the second half.
Alex Telles levelled with a spectacular volley, and it looked as though these sides would share the spoils for the fifth game in a row in this competition, but Ronaldo drilled past Geronimo Rulli to send Old Trafford into raptures
The result at least will ease some of the pressure on manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, although plenty of concerns will remain after another disjointed display in which his side were indebted to David de Gea in goal.
United were missing Aaron Wan-Bissaka through suspension and both Luke Shaw and Harry Maguire through injury, leaving them looking especially vulnerable in defence
Villarreal seemed to target Diogo Dalot early on and De Gea made a fine one-handed save to deny Arnaut Danjuma after a foray down that flank, before the United keeper sprung superbly to tip Alcacer’s header over from Danjuma’s cross.
Alcacer spurned another clear chance when Raphael Varane made a mistake as the last man, and De Gea again saved well from Yeremi Pino’s low drive, with Villarreal carrying the far greater threat despite allowing United more of the ball.
It came as little surprise when the goal finally came down the United right, Danjuma prodding the ball across the box and Alcacer poking home on the stretch from point-blank range.
United then equalised out of nothing seven minutes later, Telles volleying superbly past Rulli from outside the box after being teed up by Bruno Fernandes’ free-kick.
Dalot had offered little in attack, but he produced a sublime cross for Edinson Cavani only for the substitute to nod wide at the far post with the goal at his mercy.
There were further nervy moments in each box in an end-to-end finale, Boulaye Dia and Jesse Lingard unable to capitalise on openings, but the England international’s telling touch into Ronaldo’s path allowed the Portugal star to blast home a winner.