Cristiano Ronaldo set a new UEFA Champions League appearance record as he helped Manchester United to a 2-1 victory over Europa League champions Villarreal on matchday two of the UEFA Champions League.
After losing their first group match against Young Boys, the pressure was on Manchester United to deliver all three points against a side that defeated them in the final of the Europa League last season after a memorable penalty shootout.
The Red Devils seemed to struggle to cope with the absence of the suspended Aaron Wan-Bissaka, while captain Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw also missed out due to injury. Their defence was in sixes and sevens, and they had David de Gea to thank for two brilliant saves from Arnaut Danjuma inside the opening ten minutes of the match. Manchester United struggled to create meaningful openings as the first half ended goalless between the sides.
The second half started brilliantly for the Yellow Submarine, and within eight minutes, they were in front through former Barcelona striker Paco Alcacer. Villarreal midfielder Manu Trigueros sent Nigeria-born Danjuma in behind with a perfectly-weighted through ball, and the winger squared it for Alcacer to finish. It was 1-0 to Villarreal after 53 minutes.
The Villarreal goal brought Manchester United to life as only seven minutes later, they got themselves level in cracking style. Brazilian defender Alex Telles scored his first goal for the club with a brilliant volley after Bruno Fernandes crossed a freekick to him at the edge of the box. Old Trafford was rocking after the goal on the hour mark.
Manchester United raised their game and pinned Villarreal back as they searched for a winner, with Jadon Sancho forcing Villarreal keeper Geronimo Rulli into a save and Edinson Cavani guilty of missing a very good chance.
The Red Devils eventually got their winner in the final minute of time added on, and it was only fitting that Cristiano Ronaldo be the winning goalscorer on the day he set a new appearance record in the Champions League.
Cavani hustled a defender and won the ball before feeding Fred, who crossed into the box where Ronaldo and Jesse Lingard waited. Ronaldo cushioned a header to Lingard, and the Englishman just flicked a pass into the path of Ronaldo for him to fire home from a tight angle, sparking wide celebrations in Old Trafford.
Ronaldo set a new appearance record with his 178th appearance in the competition after eclipsing the record of former teammate Iker Casillas, who made 177 appearances for Real Madrid and FC Porto. It was his fifth goal in five appearances for Manchester United this season.
Manchester United have returned to winning ways in the group and have put themselves in contention to emerge from the group stage this season. In the group’s other game, Atalanta defeated Young Boys 1-0.