Carrick leads Man Utd into CL last 16 as familiar face notches and new boy finally breaks his duck

Date published: Tuesday 23rd November 2021 7:54 - Rob McCarthy

Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates Manchester United's opener at Villarreal in their Champions League clash

Manchester United booked their place in the last 16 of the Champions League after Michael Carrick’s first game as caretaker boss ended in a 2-0 win at Villarreal.

Who else but Cristiano Ronaldo grabbed their opener late on after a defensive error from the home side, before Jadon Sancho scored his first goal for the club to seal the victory. United only sparked into life in the final 20 minutes, after a largely defensive display up until that point, but won’t care in the slightest as they reached the knockout stage with a game to spare.

Caretaker manager Michael Carrick handed a start to Donny Van De Beek and named Bruno Fernandes among the substitutes as he selected his first United side for the game in Spain.

Van De Beek made only his third start of the season in place of Fernandes as one of four changes to the starting XI beaten 4-1 at Watford on Saturday, with Fred replacing Nemanja Matic and Anthony Martial starting ahead of Marcus Rashford.

The other change was enforced with Alex Telles at left-back in place of Luke Shaw.

Villarreal boss Unai Emery included winger Arnaut Danjuma and midfielder Etienne Capoue in his side. But Paco Alcacer, who scored in the reverse fixture at Old Trafford, was among the substitutes.

A fairly dour first period produced just three shots on target, with a very defensive United having just one of them.

The Red Devils were thankful to David de Gea though. The stopper made an impressive save to deny Manu Trigueros in that opening period.

The Spaniard was at his best again on the hour mark. Another Trigueros effort was hammered into the turf, but De Gea made a brilliant stop with his fingertips.

Former Bournemouth forward Arnaut Danjuma then blazed over the bar from the edge of the area, as the LaLiga outfit continued to dominate.

Carrick changes make all the difference

Carrick looked to add some attacking impetus when he brought on Marcus Rashford and Bruno Fernandes. The pair replaced Van de Beek and Martial with just over 20 minutes to go.

Those changes brought about United’s best chance of the game. Fernandes found Jadon Sancho, who beat his man before seeing his effort saved by Geronimo Rulli.

United had finally found some life and they took the lead through Ronaldo with 12 minutes to go.

The Red Devils legend lobbed the keeper from the edge of the area. However, he owed a huge debt of thanks to Fred, who won back possession in a dangerous area.

Sancho then sealed the victory in the 90th minute. The England man fired into the roof of the net after a quick United break.

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