Manchester United beat Villarreal 2-0 in Michael Carrick’s first game in caretaker charge of the club, following the departure of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

The former midfielder made four changes to the starting line-up at Vicarage Road, which proved to be the undoing of the legendary Norwegian.

It was a tense affair at the El Madrigal as United set up to be pragmatic and difficult to break down, but when Cristiano Ronaldo and Jadon Sancho got their chances, they were clinical.

Here are five things we learned in the clash against Unai Emery’s side….

Carrick makes big calls

Villarreal CF v Manchester United: Group F - UEFA Champions League
(Photo by Ash Donelon/Manchester United via Getty Images)

Following an impressive second half performance against Watford, Donny van de Beek was rewarded with a place in the starting line-up.

But instead of playing alongside Bruno Fernandes, the Dutchman came into the side in place of our number 18.

Anthony Martial came into the side for Marcus Rashford, who was also dropped by Carrick.

Rashford and Fernandes came on for the pair in the last third of the game and helped United get a crucial three points.

Qualification assured

Villarreal CF v Manchester United: Group F - UEFA Champions League
(Photo by Maria Jose Segovia/DeFodi Images via Getty Images)

It wasn’t an entertaining game by any means, but with us conceding goals for fun in recent weeks, Carrick set his team up to get a positive result.

The win against the Yellow Submarine means that we have qualified for the last 16 with a game to spare ahead of facing Young Boys at Old Trafford in the last game of the group.

Despite losing against Young Boys on the opening matchday, Carrick or maybe another interim manager will have the opportunity to rotate the squad at the Theatre of Dreams.

 

De Gea saves United once again

Villarreal CF v Manchester United: Group F - UEFA Champions League
(Photo by Jose Breton/Pics Action/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

United’s number one twice denied Manu Trigueros, but it was the second save just before the hour mark which was the most impressive.

A deflection fell to the Villarreal midfielder, but his shot which went through Harry Maguire’s legs was superbly flicked away by de Gea.

Back in his homeland, the Spaniard rose to the occasion and ensured he got a rare but crucial clean sheet for his side.

van de Beek and Sancho connection blossoms

Villarreal CF v Manchester United: Group F - UEFA Champions League
(Photo by Maria Jose Segovia/DeFodi Images via Getty Images)

When the former Ajax midfielder was introduced at the interval against the Hornets, Sancho was the biggest beneficiary.

The pair both enjoy quick one and two touch interchanges and although they haven’t played together much, there is the potential for them to become a lethal partnership.

Against the reigning Europa League champions, the pair again linked up to good effect and it was clear they were looking for one and other in possession.

They are both getting a better understanding of one and other and United look a brighter team with them both in it.

Sancho completed the scoring on an impressive night’s work for the winger with a clinical finish which was his first strike for the club.

Ronaldo delivers once again

FBL-EUR-C1-VILLARREAL-MAN UTD
(Photo by JOSE JORDAN/AFP via Getty Images)

Following some good pressing from Fred, the ball fell kindly for Ronaldo, but it was a delicate lob to break the deadlock.

It was the 36-year-old’s 799 career goal for club and country and his 140th in the Champions League.

He maintained his record of scoring in every Champions League game this season.

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