Hello, I am Freddie Cotton and I will be covering tonight’s action as Manchester United travel to Villarreal for game week five of this season’s UEFA Champions League campaign.
Manchester United come into tonight’s game off the back of a dismal 4-1 loss away at Watford on Saturday, a result which spelt the end for club legend Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Michael Carrick will lead the team as interim coach for tonight’s fixture following the Norwegian’s departure as the club continue the search for a permanent fix for the role. United will be looking to get back to winning ways and what better way to do it than beating a Villarreal side who denied them the UEFA Europa League trophy last season.
Player To Watch: Cristiano Ronaldo.
Who else? The returning great has been decisive for the away side in all of their UEFA Champions League games so far, scoring five goals in the opening four games of the competition with three of them being the winning or equalizing goal. Villarreal will be aiming to avoid the mistakes they made in the game at Old Trafford as Ronaldo scored in the fifth minute of added time to give United the three points.
Villarreal have struggled to replicate their form from last season and sit 12th in La Liga after 13 league matches, winning only three games so far this campaign. If the home side want to cement their place in the round of 16 they will have to get the better of their visitors, who have not lost a game in the competition since that opening defeat at Young Boys.
Player To Watch: Arnaut Danjuma.
With main goal threat Gerard Moreno out with a muscle injury, new signing Arnaut Danjuma will play alongside Yeremi Pino in attack for the home side tonight. After causing havoc to the Manchester United defence in the away game earlier this season, the Dutch international will be looking to contribute once more, helping Villarreal to victory and sealing their place in the round of 16.
Here are the line-ups for tonight’s match:
1′ Manchester United get the game underway and will be kicking from right to left in the first half.
3′ The first chance of the game goes to Manchester United. After Anthony Martial is brought down by Manu Trigueros just outside the Villarreal penalty area, Alex Telles places the ball down and curls a dangerous cross towards the back post where Cristiano Ronaldo was waiting. Just as it looked as though the ball was going to fall to the Portuguese striker for a tap in, Villarreal captain Raul Albiol rose to flick the ball away from danger and out for a throw-in to the away side.
26′ A smart save from David De Gea. A long ball from Geronimo Rulli loops over the Manchester United defence and is latched onto by Yeremi Pino. Instead of taking a shot, he drives to the by-line and cuts the ball back to Trigueros on the edge of the Manchester United penalty area. The veteran midfielder strikes the ball across goal towards the bottom left hand corner but is denied by De Gea who gets down well and stretches out his right arm to palm the ball away from danger.
32′ Pino receives the first yellow card of the match after hacking Ronaldo down just outside the host’s penalty area. More decisively, the yellow card means that the Spaniard will miss Villarreal’s tie against Atalanta in the next round of UEFA Champions League fixtures.
41′ Donny Van De Beek follows suit and is the second player in the referee’s book. Villarreal are awarded a free kick on the edge of the penalty area after the Dutchman slides late into a challenge on his international teammate, Arnaut Danjuma.
HALF TIME: VILLARREAL CF 0-0 MANCHESTER UNITED.
A rather slow first half of football in tonight’s game as both sides have struggled to get up to full speed. The home side have had the vast majority of the few chances although none of them have been clear cut. Villarreal will have to provide more of an attacking threat if they want to book their place in the round of 16 with a match to spare.
46′ Villarreal get the second half underway.
58′ What a magnificent save from De Gea. Trigueros strikes a shot on the half volley towards the Manchester United goal but, he is denied once more by De Gea. The Spaniard somehow dives across his goal to get a strong hand on the shot which looked to be nestling in the bottom left hand corner.
66′ MANCHESTER UNITED SUBSTITUTIONS:
73′ VILLARREAL SUBSTITUTIONS:
78′ GOAL 1-0, CRISTIANO RONALDO DOES IT AGAIN! Fred intercepts Rulli’s poor pass out from goal and the ball bobbles to Ronaldo. With the goalkeeper off his line, Manchester United’s superstar loops the ball over the head of the helpless Rulli and into the back of the Villarreal net. The goal is Ronaldo’s sixth in his five Champions League games this season. Just WOW.
79′ VILLARREAL SUBSTITUTION:
84′ Ronaldo so close to a second. Juan Foyth attempts to head a bouncing ball back to his goalkeeper but fails to produce enough power on his pass and Ronaldo intervenes. The goal scorer stretches out his right boot and attempts to poke the ball past Rulli but watches on as his shot rolls narrowly wide of the right hand post. United well on top now, the goal has settled any remaining nerves they may have had.
85′ VILLARREAL SUBSTITUTIONS:
90′ GOAL 2-0, SANCHO SENDS MANCHESTER UNITED THROUGH TO LAST 16! Manchester United break well and outnumber the Villarreal defence as they approach the penalty area. Marcus Rashford soars past Albiol and cuts the ball back to Bruno Fernandes who is unselfish and lays the ball onto Jadon Sancho. The Englishman scores his first Manchester United goal, setting the ball onto his right foot and smashing the ball off the underside of the crossbar and into the Villarreal goal. The home side certainly dead and buried now.
90+5′ FULL TIME: VILLARREAL 0-2 MANCHESTER UNITED.
Manchester United leave Spain with three points and a place booked in the round of 16 of this year’s UEFA Champions league campaign. A smash and grab raid from the ‘Red Devils’ means that they progress to the next round after Cristiano Ronaldo and Jadon Sancho strikes. After a tough week for the club the spotlight is now rightly on Manchester United and Michael Carrick who will be looking to build from this impressive result. Villarreal still have the chance to book their place in the next round but will likely have to win away at Atalanta in early December and rely on results going their way elsewhere.
Player Of The Match: David De Gea.
Although it may have been Ronaldo who scored the winning goal for the visiting side, the player of the match is undoubtedly David De Gea. Tonight was really a game where he showed his worth to this Manchester United side, producing various magnificent saves to keep his team in the game. All of this on top of keeping a clean sheet means he is by far and away the player of the match.
No matter how Manchester United get on though, the evening would not be complete if Jamie Carragher did not have the final say. Goodnight everyone!