Five things we learned from Manchester United 2-1 Villarreal

Manchester United have beaten Villarreal 2-1 at Old Trafford in stunning style. Paco Alcacer opened the scoring before a stunning Alex Telles equaliser and Cristiano Ronaldo’s late, late goal sealed a precious win.

Here is a look at five things we learned from the game and you can watch the goals from the match too…

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Solskjaer goes 4-3-3

When the team news came out, it looked like Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had opted to go on the attack.

It didn’t take long to see that Scott McTominay was anchoring the midfield solo, with Paul Pogba and Bruno Fernandes pushed on either side of him in a 4-3-3.

Solskjaer tried that system against Wolves earlier on in the season and for this game, Fred was dropped to the bench.

It’s a formation many United teams would like to see Solskjaer use on a more regular basis, but the performance when it was deployed here was disjointed and stuttering for large periods despite the late win.


De Gea shines again

David de Gea’s first half performance was the only reason United did not go into half-time behind.

A sprawling save down to his left from Arnaut Danjama’s curling effort was the pick of the bunch.

The Spaniard had to bail United out more often than Solskjaer would like but he continued his sparkling form so far this season.

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Dalot struggles on big night

The vast majority of those chances de Gea batted away came when Danjuma beat Diogo Dalot down United’s right.

United were fortunate that the former Bournemouth wideman’s finishing was not more accurate in that first half.

Also, the most experienced member of Solskjaer’s backline, Raphael Varane, made a mistake which could have led to the opening goal if not for de Gea, so Dalot wasn’t the only culprit.

But Alcacer’s goal came down his side when the Portugal international’s attempt to clear was not strong enough.

This was a big night for Dalot and it’s fair to say he didn’t exactly impress.

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Telles steps up

When United fell behind, many might have expected one of the many world class creative players on the pitch to provide a moment of magic to make the difference.

In actual fact, it was Alex Telles, only in the side because Luke Shaw is out injured, who stepped up to the plate.

Fernandes flighted the ball over from a free kick and Telles caught it flush on the volley to fire it home.

It was the first real moment of quality United had produced all night and it sparked Old Trafford into life.

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United still alive

This result means United now have three points from their first two Champions League matches.

Atalanta won 1-0 against Young Boys earlier on in the night so United went into this one bottom of the group.

It goes without saying that even a draw would have put them Solskjaer on the back foot but Ronaldo’s late goal gives us life.

Two huge games against Atalanta lie ahead and this performance wasn’t exactly one to fill Solskjaer with confidence going into them, but the late win makes a world of difference.

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Sam Preston is an NCTJ gold standard news and sports journalist who studied with the Press Association. He also has a 2:1 law with French law degree from the University of Birmingham, which included a year studying at Bordeaux Montaigne University. He is an FA Level 1 football coach who appeared on the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire show in 2018 and has also written digital football content and match-day programme pieces for Colchester United, Mansfield Town and Stockport County.