3 things you might have missed from Man Utd UCL game
We witnessed many moments of explosive drama throughout an outstanding night of Champions League football.
Here’s what you might have missed from United Wednesday’s UCL matchday two actions.
1. Ronaldo’s record-breaking performance is unavoidable:
Cristiano Ronaldo was completely ineffective against Villarreal for 94 minutes. The Portuguese striker was making his 178th appearance in the Champions League, the most by any player in the competition’s history.
And it appeared like he would sleepwalk his way through his big night. He couldn’t seem to get to Villarreal, couldn’t find his teammates, it was terrible.
But then he got what he was looking for: a shot in the box. It wasn’t a really good opportunity, but it was a shot at goal from close range. When Lingard returned the ball to him, he followed his instincts and buried the ball for the 136th time in the Champions League (also a record) to throw Old Trafford into a frenzy. He is the only United player to score later in a UCL game than him.
He’ll always be there.
2. Solskjaer was once again saved by his stars and replacements:
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is an odd manager in that he frequently waits too long to make substitutes, but when he does, they are frequently excellent. Consider tonight: even at halftime, it was clear that United needed subs to get them going, but he did nothing until the 75th minute. Jesse Lingard and Fred, who were instrumental in the game-winning goal, didn’t come in until the 89th minute.
Nonetheless, it worked. They’ve played horribly and won regardless, which has been the case for much of Solskjaer’s stint as United manager. Villarreal dominated United for the majority of the game, and only David de Gea’s outstanding performance kept the Red Devils in contention.
He couldn’t stop the Yellow Submarine from grabbing the lead, though (Victor Lindelof is no Harry Maguire).
They stayed in the game, though, because they were only down one. Then, out of nowhere, Bruno Fernandes and Alex Telles conjured up an amazing wondergoal. Telles met a brilliantly lofted free-kick with the most powerful of volleys, and United were instantly level. Telles finished off his night by clearing a shot off the line.
Of course, they kept pushing. And all of his substitutes collaborated to set up Cristiano Ronaldo for the game-winning goal. Cavani got the ball back, Fred crossed it in, Jesse Lingard controlled it and poked it back to Cristiano, who saved the day.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer isn’t a great coach, and he’s probably not even a good one. His Manchester United team appears disorganized and unprepared to deal with opponents on a regular basis, relying on the individual brilliance of their great players to get by.
However, they continue to achieve success! Whatever you think of them, this was Solskjaer’s 17th come-from-behind victory. Villarreal should have beaten them, but they hung in there and won. They’ve got something about them, a mental toughness, if you will. They’d be in serious business if they could combine that with some genuine footballing ability.
Is it possible that he may hire another assistant?
3. Lingard should be given a chance:
Lingard may not have played precisely behind a striker for United, but he drifted into that area frequently enough for West Ham, getting into goalscoring positions centrally.
After a succession of strong performances this season, it was thought that he would make his United debut soon.
Given the attacking riches available to Solskjaer, which were only increased by the astonishing deal to bring Ronaldo back to United, chances for Lingard – who is in the final year of his contract at Old Trafford – may be hard to come by at United.
He can play on the left, but even if James leaves, it remains a strong position, especially if Pogba is utilized there frequently.
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