Caretaker boss Michael Carrick hailed two aspects of Manchester United’s win at Villarreal that saw them book their place in the last 16 of the Champions League.
Cristiano Ronaldo delivered yet another critical late goal before Jadon Sancho got his first in a United shirt to give Carrick a 2-0 victory over the Spanish side. However, United were far from convincing against a side 12th in LaLiga.
But where there is Ronaldo there is a way and his sixth Champions League goal of the season, 12 minutes from time, set them on course for victory.
The Portuguese then helped start a move capped by Sancho in the last minute of the 90. The England forward crashed a shot off the underside of the bar to confirm United’s place in the knockout stages and ending the three-match winless run that cost Ole Gunnar Solskjaer his job.
Speaking after the game Carrick told BT Sport: “We were ready for it tonight. They are a good team who make you work in possession.
“The boys had to dig in at times and showed a little bit of everything. So I was delighted with the way it ended.”
United response shows character
Carrick was also pleased with the way his side responded to a difficult spell.
He added: “When you have suffered results-wise and are not in good form, individually and as a team, it is not easy to come out and just let everything click.
“In some ways it was the best way to win for me. We had to show some character and fight.”
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As for his own experience on the touchline, the former Red Devils midfielder said: “I have really enjoyed it, the whole thing, the support I have had.
“It has not been an easy couple of days for anyone at the club. That result almost feels like it is for Ole, I can’t get away from that.
“We had a job to do and things needed to be taken care of. I was happy to do it and thankfully it all went to plan in the end.”
Maguire hails massive United result
Under-fire United defender Harry Maguire also felt it was a “massive” result for the club.
Maguire told BT Sport: “We knew going into the game that the past couple of months have been nowhere near good enough, and tonight was a big, important result for our season and our fans – we know how tough it has been for them.
“We have got to make sure this is the start now and we need to push on.
“The first half was not pretty, it was tough, tight and edgy – two teams who knew they could not lose the game. We freshened things up and we pushed on.
“The emphasis was getting a result, we know how tough coming away from home is in Europe.
“We executed the plan really well and controlled things better in the second half. We probably got what we deserved in the end.
“It must be the start. We must keep improving and keep pushing.”
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