This win is for Ole, says United’s interim boss Carrick
Manchester United's caretaker manager Michael Carrick has dedicated their 2-0 Champions League win over Villarreal to his predecessor Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Late goals from Cristiano Ronaldo and Jadon Sancho earned the underwhelming Red Devils a 2-0 win at the Estadio de la Ceramica yesterday morning (Singapore time), helping them secure a last-16 spot.
It was also their first win in four games in all competitions and Carrick, who took over temporarily after Solskjaer was fired last Sunday, was keen to deflect attention away from himself.
"That one meant a lot. It was a tough, tough game, they're a good team," he said. "They really test you and make you work, they're really good with the ball and push you to the limit defensively...
"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."
United came into the contest knowing that a win would see them through to the last 16 with one group match left to play, but they looked shorn of ideas.
The home side had the much better chances, with United goalkeeper David de Gea bailing his team out with several fine saves, the best of which denied Manu Trigueros a goal.
Out of nowhere, however, a poor pass from Villarreal goalkeeper Geronimo Rulli that was miscontrolled by Etienne Capoue was then seized upon by Ronaldo, who lofted the ball over the stranded Rulli to give United the lead in the 78th minute.
Ronaldo's goals have been crucial for United in Europe this season. He scored late winners against Atalanta and Villarreal in the reverse fixture, while also netting an injury-time equaliser at Atalanta in the last match.
The Portuguese star got more than a helping hand for this important strike, but his finish was clinical.
He also played a role in the second goal in the 90th minute, finding Marcus Rashford, whose cut-back was diverted by Bruno Fernandes into Sancho's path to fire home.
The performance may have been disappointing, but United got the job done, qualifying top of Group F with 10 points, three ahead of Villarreal, who can no longer catch them due to their inferior head-to-head record.
United captain Harry Maguire told BT Sport: "We needed the result for our season and for our fans - we know how tough it's been for them in recent weeks. We have to make sure this is just the start."
Trigueros was left to rue his side's mistakes, saying: "Their goalkeeper was in great form again. They've got a load of good players and if you give gifts away at the back, they'll punish you.
"Ronaldo creates goals from nothing and we made it easy to him. We played well, but once again we lost." - REUTERS