Ole Gunnar Solskjaer finds perfect response to being issued “big result” warning

Summer signing Cristiano Ronaldo scored a late winner against Villareal on Wednesday night to put Manchester United’s Champions League campaign back on track

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In pictures: Man Utd v Villarreal

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be relieved that his side managed to scrape past Spanish side Villareal on Wednesday night in the Champions League, a victory that many felt he urgently needed.

The Red Devils looked like they would crumble under the pressure from the off as David De Gea was forced into some fine stops, but he couldn’t keep out Paco Alcacer’s close-range strike in the 53rd minute.

Left-back Alex Telles levelled things up in the 60th minute with an unstoppable volley into the bottom corner after Bruno Fernandes teed him up with a chipped free-kick.

Then the inevitable happened as five-time Ballon d’Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo stole all three points in the 95th minute as he smashed home from inside the box following good work from Jesse Lingard.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be pleased with what he saw on Wednesday night


AFP via Getty Images)

The win will mean much more than just three points for Solskjaer, who has come under fire lately for the disappointing defeat to West Ham in the Carabao Cup and also losing against BSC Young Boys.

Speaking on BT before the game, Michael Owen said: “ Manchester United need a big result tonight, pressure’s sort of building on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer going out in a cup competition to West Ham, losing the first group game of the Champions League, Premier League is looking okay at the moment.

“Ole needs a big result tonight and I expect him to get it that’s a pretty solid team, it’s the best they’ve got he’s certainly not rested anyone because of the importance of it.”

There was a sense of relief in the studio afterwards as former players Owen and Owen Hargreaves, who spent four years at Old Trafford, analysed the victory.

Hargreaves was very complimentary of Solskjaer’s decision making in the tie, and without the introduction of Lingard then United may not have won considering his assist for the winner.

“The way they lost Young Boys it was so important they got a result and it didn’t look like they would get one, Villarreal arguably deserved something from the game but when you have someone like Cristiano Ronaldo and [Edinson] Cavani that came on and really affected the game.

“Ole Gunnar really got his subs right, subs that could affect the game they pushed on, the crowd was up for it and Cristiano rises to the occasion. David de Gea made some huge saves to keep them in it.

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Cristiano Ronaldo scored the match winner to send Old Trafford into a frenzy

“This team Villarreal tried to play even till the end, they were looking for the goal. The energy from Cavani was so important and the crowd believed there was a goal there and you could just feel it. Cross from Fred stands it up, great from Jesse to get a little touch and you know who’s going to score that.”

Ronaldo has hit the ground running since returning to United from Juventus for £20milllion. He has three in three league games and bagged in both Champions League matches.

Former England striker Owen, who won the Premier League in the 2010/11 campaign under Sir Alex Ferguson, spoke of the goal after the game, saying: “I thought Cristiano Ronaldo was going to take a step back and bring it down on his chest, he heads it down to Jesse and gets it back and the rest is history, what a finish.

“Villarreal probably deserved something on the balance of play but the more and more the game went the more you fancied Man United and I was impressed with their energy.”

“I thought the subs were going to bring so much energy, Cavani, Jesse Lingard, I’m surprised Jesse Lingard wasn’t the first sub if I’m honest to only give him six minutes plus injury time wow, he’s absolutely flying at the moment.

Solskjaer will need to ready his squad promptly for their home match against Everton on Saturday before he can enjoy a few weeks rest over the international break, which should give some of the injured members of his squad – mainly Marcus Rashford and Harry Maguire – time to return to full fitness.

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