Manchester United secured progression to the knockout phase of this season’s Champions League with a game to spare.
Manchester United caretaker manager Michael Carrick was understandably pleased with the way they defeated Villarreal on Tuesday night. The former midfielder had dedicated the Reds’ vital victory in Spain to former manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. In his first match in temporary charge, Carrick oversaw the 2-0 win for the Reds at the Estadio de la Ceramica after taking over from Solskjaer, who departed at the weekend. As a result of the three points, United secured progression to the knockout phase of this season’s Champions League with a game to spare. Late goals from Cristiano Ronaldo and Jadon Sancho helped United get the crucial result ahead of a visit to Stamford Bridge to play Chelsea at the weekend in the Premier League.
Speaking after the game, Michael said the triumph was for his former colleague in the dugout. In his post-match media duties, Carrick, as per their club’s website, said, “That one meant a lot. It was a tough, tough game, they’re a good team. They really test you and make you work, they’re really good with the ball and push you to the limit defensively. We had to be good at times, we had to dig in at times tonight and I thought, as the game grew, we got better.”
“We had a little spell after half-time that we struggled to get hold of the ball, but I thought the substitutes had a massive impact. A clean sheet too, David [De Gea]’s had to make a save or two for us and keep us in the game when he has to. It’s a terrific night for the players, a terrific night for the club, to go through in the Champions League is amazing. That one’s for Ole that.”
The match completely turned in United’s favour after Bruno Fernandes and Marcus Rashford came from the bench in the second half. United upped their tempo in the last quarter of the match to win the game 2-0 in the end. “Let’s be honest, I don’t think we could have hoped to have come out here and played really pretty football from the word go. When you have suffered results-wise and not being in a great run of form, individually and as a team, it’s not easy to just come out and let things click. In some ways, tonight was the best way to win, we had to show some character, we had to dig in and fight,” he said.
“It went our way at times, it didn’t some other times, and, on occasions, it could have drifted away from us. After half-time, we got back together again, and the subs made a massive impact towards the end. The game had a bit of everything and that’s all I could have hoped for, the boys gave everything.”
Cristiano Ronaldo continued his goalscoring streak, while Jadon Sancho got his first goal for Manchester United in Spain. Speaking about it, “Fred’s done fantastic, to be fair, and won the ball back high which we wanted to do. When Ronaldo gets that chance, you know he’s going to put it away, it just ticks another one for him on his list.”
“I was so pleased for Jadon, I thought he worked his socks off tonight, I thought he gave everything tonight. At times, it wasn’t always with the ball, and I know how much he enjoys the ball at his feet, trying to make things happen. He showed a different side tonight and to get his goal at the end pretty much capped it off perfectly for him and for us.”