Manchester United qualify for the knockout stage of the 2021/22 Champions League with a 2-0 win over Villarreal.
The post Ole Gunnar Solskjaer era has started with a win, and more impressively a clean sheet for United. Jadon Sancho opened his account for the club following Cristiano Ronaldo’s opener in the second half.
Caretaker manager Michael Carrick made some big changes and it certainly had an impact on his side’s performance.
1. Cristiano Ronaldo Maintains Scoring Streak
Villarreal have been on the wrong end of Ronaldo’s match-winning strike for the second time this season. With just 12 minutes remaining, Ronaldo pounced upon Fred’s interception to lob over Villarreal goalkeeper Rulli to put his side ahead.
This was the Portuguese’ fifth Champions League goal of the season, and despite United underperforming, he has maintained his prolific goal scoring form in his favorite competition.
2. Sancho and Van de Beek
Donny van de Beek and Sancho mostly warmed the bench under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, but were handed a rare start in Carrick’s first ever XI.
Sancho was a disciplined presence on the pitch without the ball, and linked up well with the frontline in possession. The Englishman capped off a great individual performance by lashing home on the counter-attack.
The Dutchman, however, failed to replicate his Watford cameo, and was subbed off for Bruno Fernandes, who instantly made an impact by assisting Sancho’s goal.
3. ‘McFred’ is Here to Stay
Carrick showed he’s not afraid to take bold decisions by dropping both Fernandes and Marcus Rashford. However, he still had to persist with Fred and Scott McTominay, highlighting the lack of midfield options at Old Trafford that played a big part in Solskjaer’s dismissal.
Although the Brazilian was instrumental in United’s first goal, the midfield pivot struggled to control the game, with Unai Emery’s men dominating the possession for much of the first-half.