Manchester United squared off against Villarreal in much disarray. It was a must win in Spain as they searched for last 16 qualification. Read on to find out how The Red Devils faired at the Estadio de la Cerámica.
Hello, Tom Cunningham here. Welcome to the Estadio de la Cerámica and a slightly warmer Spain compared to the brisk winter of Manchester. If you haven’t guessed it yet, we’ll be watching Villarreal vs a manager-less Manchester United side tonight. The Red Devils enter the game in desperate need of all three points. Win, and they’ll go top of Group F and go through to the Round of 16. Lose, however, and they could staring down the Europa League barrel by the end of the night. Team news is soon, so keep an eye out.
Donny van de BACK: The midfielder comes in for just his seventh start this season. Meanwhile, Bruno Fernandes is on the bench…
We’re meant to be kicking off. The referee’s communication device has other ideas, however, failing at the worst time possible. The sound guys may be facing the same fate as a certain Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at this rate…
1′: And they’re off (finally). Manchester United get us underway!
2′: FIRST CHANCE! Almost the perfect start for a United side that have been in so much recent disarray, as Scott McTominay connects with Alex Telles’ set piece, before heading into the side netting. A warning sign for the hosts…
5′: GOOD SAVE! First test of the night for David de Gea. The Spaniard does well to tip Pervis Estupiñán’s low-driven effort away to safety. A case of ‘anything you can do, I can do better’ from Villarreal thus far…
9′: CHANCE! Yeremy Pino does well to make space, dropping the shoulder to escape the incoming Victor Lindelof. His effort can only find the side netting, however. Let off for United.
15′: This has been incredibly poor from Manchester United, predictably poor, too. They very much look like a side coming in off the back of four losses in their last five. Villarreal, meanwhile, look like a team with a plan; a team capable of breaking down the opposition. If the tempo stays like this then Michael Carrick’s managerial debut will be one to forget.
21′: Cristiano Ronaldo is NOT happy after Juan Foyth sends the star-man tumbling. Ronaldo complains, but the referee waves the complaints away outside of the area.
27′: GREAT SAVE! It’s almost as if United are just waiting for the goal, confined to losing this one. De Gea is ensuring that is not the case, however, saving again. This time, the goalkeeper palms away Manu Trigueros’ effort to deny the hosts. The visitors MUST wake-up here.
30′: GOOD CHANCE! Ronaldo has to do better. He couldn’t have asked for a better cross from Telles. It was made for a player of his expertise.
33′: Speaking of Ronaldo, here he is again, lining up the free-kick after Pino’s foul. The winger is rightly booked; some may even say PINOlised. Anyway…Here’s the stance; here’s the shoulder shrug…
34′: Into the wall. Poor.
39′: Much better from United, now. The visitors have finally got their foot on the ball and maintained some possession. For the first time tonight, they look like a top six Premier League side.
HT: VILLARREAL 0-0 MANCHESTER UNITED
And that’s the whistle. Not exactly what you would describe as entertaining. It has, at the very least, brought with it a little intrigue with Carrick making his debut in the technical area. Has it made a difference? As predicted, no. United have been as lethargic as Villarreal have been wasteful. Had Moreno been on the pitch, we’d arguably be looking at a different narrative.
An update on Manchester United’s managerial search:
How Twitter reacted to the first-half:
46′: Back underway here in Spain. Let’s hope for a slightly more entertaining half…
50′: More of the same here, so far in the second period. Villarreal have already forced Lindelof to head away from the corner, preventing a potential opportunity.
53′: Much better from United, who work the ball well into the feet of Telles to cross. The full-back can only find Pau Torres with his pass, however. Carrick will be pleased with his side’s response after a much-needed half-time break.
58′: WHAT A SAVE! De Gea is doing God’s work here for United. He saved them in the first-half, and he’s saving them in the second. Villarreal should have the lead, and, but for the goalkeeper’s save – palming the ball away from Trigueros’ volley – the hosts would be ahead.
63′: Poor from Arnaut Danjuma. The in-form winger strikes over after receiving the ball inside the area in a good position to potentially test De Gea.
66′: Van de Beek’s night is over, as Fernandes enters the pitch. We’ll see you in another two weeks, Donny!
71′: MASSIVE CHANCE! Jadon Sancho should score; that was the chance to kickstart his Manchester United career. All Sancho has to do, after breaking into the box, is slot the ball past Rulli. The goalkeeper is having none of it, though – blocking the ball from close-range.
73′: Moreno is on. But not the one we were expecting. Instead, we’ll have to settle for Alberto Moreno. Oh how the former Liverpool man would love to repeat his namesake’s moment last season by netting against United.
78′: GOAL 0-1 (Cristiano Ronaldo): WHO ELSE? It was always going to be him. Back in Spain, back amongst the goals once more in the Champions League, Ronaldo receives the loose ball after it is robbed by an uncharacteristic United press, before lobbing a delightful effort over Rulli, who is in No Man’s Land. Where there is a Champions League game, there is a Ronaldo goal.
83′: Not the best effort from Étienne Capoue. The ball hits him on the head, rather than him heading it, and the ball flies over the bar.
85′: CHANCE! It should be game over. Ronaldo is inadvertently played in one-on-one by Foyth, but can only direct his effort wide of the goal, having hit the ball with the outside of his boot.
88′: United have done well since the goal, at both ends. They look likelier to add to their lead than lose it. Villarreal will keep pushing for an equaliser. But, as things stand, the visitors are on their way to the last 16.
90′: GOAL 0-2 (Jadon Sancho): GAME OVER. What a goal by Sancho. If there’s a way to net your first goal for one of the best clubs in English football history, that’s the way. The winger receives the ball, before taking one touch and firing an unstoppable strike in off the bar. Rulli stood NO chance.
FT: VILLARREAL 0-2 MANCHESTER UNITEDEmbed from Getty Images
That was far better from United compared to the first-half. Fred, despite recent criticism, deserves a lot of the credit for both goals. On both occasions, he was the instigator; the winner of the ball, and the player at the centre as United reaped the rewards of finally pressing on the front foot. With the three points, United are through to the last 16. The perfect debut for Carrick.
With that said, this is where I sign off. I hope you have enjoyed the coverage, and the game as a whole. Have a good night.