Ole Gunnar Solskjaer singled out Manchester United duo Cristiano Ronaldo and Jesse Lingard for special praise after Wednesday’s last-gasp win over Villarreal at Old Trafford. The Portuguese superstar fired home from a tight angle deep into stoppage time to hand the Red Devils seal a hugely important victory in their Champions League group stage campaign.
United went in slightly fortunate to be on level terms at half-time, with David de Gea keeping his side from going behind with a string of impressive saves.
However, Villarreal eventually managed to find the elusive breakthrough courtesy of Paco Alcacer’s opening goal shortly after the interval.
The La Liga side failed to keep hold of their advantage, though, with Alex Telles smashing home a fiercely-hit volley on the hour mark.
United huffed and puffed as the clock ticked down before Ronaldo scored the decisive goal after being set up by Lingard with just seconds remaining to send Old Trafford into raptures.
The result sees the Red Devils climb to third place in Group F on three points, one adrift of early leaders Atalanta.
Solskjaer thanked his lucky stars for Ronaldo after the final whistle on Tuesday evening, with the 36-year-old proving once again that he is capable of deciding the result of any given match in an instant.
“When you’ve got Cristiano on the pitch, you’ve always got a chance,” the United boss told BT Sport.
“Seriously, he’s so, so good in front of goal and he has an impact on everyone. The crowd, the players and the club as a whole.”
Ronaldo’s last-minute goal was created by Lingard, who made an important quick-fire contribution after replacing Mason Greenwood in the 89th minute.
The former West Ham loanee twisted and turned inside the area before laying the ball off for Ronaldo to blast home at the second time of asking.
Solskjaer went on to hail Lingard’s involvement, suggesting that he was buoyed by the frustration of not yet earning a regular starting spot at United.
“Jesse was probably not happy from not playing more,” added Solskjaer.
“But of course he comes on, makes an impact, and that’s what you do as a sub at this club.”
FOLLOW OUR NEW DAILY EXPRESS SPORT INSTAGRAM PAGE
The United manager also acknowledged that his side were somewhat fortunate to come away with all three points, with Villarreal enjoying their fair share of opportunities throughout the encounter.
“That’s what happens here at Old Trafford, and it’s happened so many times before,” said Solskjaer.
“Of course, we had to throw caution to the wind and we got lucky in the end.
“They’re [Villarreal] a good team, hard to beat and they’ve not lost a game since way before the final and they played some good teams before.
“It’s a difficult one because we’re at home so we want to win, but they play so well and if you don’t press them they’ll be happy enough sitting off.”