Cristiano Ronaldo scored a thrilling 95th-minute goal to help Manchester United win 2-1 over Villarreal in the Champions League on Wednesday.
The Spanish team started brighter, generating a slew of opportunities, but United goalkeeper David de Gea was in superb form.
Paco Alcácer of Spain finally broke the stalemate for the visitors soon after halftime, knocking home from close range.
A stunning volleyed equalizer from Brazilian left-back Alex Telles tied the scores, before Ronaldo rifled home from inside the box to save Manchester United at Old Trafford, like he has done numerous times before.
It was an even more significant triumph for the three-time Champions League winners after losing its first group encounter of the season against Young Boys in Switzerland.
Ronaldo confessed that the game was a “battle” after saving his team’s blushes.
“We had a little bit of a problem because we knew we had to win the game before the game,” the 36-year-old said to the reporters. “It was difficult; the team was anxious, especially in the first and second halves, to be honest.”
“But we also got some luck, which we didn’t have in the previous game. It was excellent. It was excellent. Our players had a terrific mentality, and the crowd pushed us hard. We believed, we believed after Telles’ goal. Because it is feasible to accomplish it here, in this stadium, with the history that this team has. We had faith. Before the second half, I told the players in the tunnel that we had to believe.”
A Heroic Showing
It seemed only appropriate that Ronaldo would score in dramatic manner to steal the show on what was a record-breaking night for him.
After passing former Real Madrid colleague Iker Casillas to become the all-time top appearance maker in the Champions League, the Portuguese international was playing his 178th match.
With his goal on Wednesday, Ronaldo now has 136 goals in the Champions League, with Lionel Messi in second place with 121 goals.
However, against Villarreal, things did not go well for the English giants, as Unai Emery’s team got off to a strong start.
Villarreal caused United a slew of difficulties because to the pace and slick passing of Alcácer and Arnaut Danjuma, and United was left scratching its head as to how it didn’t score in the first half.
But Alcácer poked home from Danjuma’s low cross only eight minutes after the halftime break to give the visitors the lead.
The goal appeared to jolt the home side into action, and it took a wonderfully hit volley from Telles on the hour mark to equalize the score.
And just when the game appeared to be heading for a dismal draw for Manchester United after Edinson Cavani wasted a great chance to win it, Ronaldo appeared.
Jesse Lingard’s exquisite touch set the ball up for Cristiano Ronaldo, who blasted the ball home from an acute angle with Villarreal goalkeeper Gerónimo Rulli off his line to rescue three points.
“At Old Trafford, it is what happens,” manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer told BT Sport. “It’s happened a million times before.” We had to throw caution to the wind, and in the end, we were fortunate.
“Sometimes it’s not about ‘pass there, pass there,’ it’s about the fans — and they’ve sucked it in before — and you always have a chance when Cristiano is on the pitch.” He has such a strong presence in front of goal and has an influence on everyone.”