Unlike the Europa League final defeat in May, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer knew he had options from the bench to change the game against Villarreal this time around.
With the game entering the final 15 minutes, the Norwegian turned to his substitutes to go and win the game for Manchester United.
United already had the likes of Paul Pogba, Bruno Fernandes, Mason Greenwood, Jadon Sancho and Cristiano Ronaldo on the pitch in a star-studded attack.
So it was always going to be difficult to make United even more attacking despite having a wealth of options from the bench.
Solskjaer got substitutions right against Villarreal
In the 75th minute, Solskjaer made a double substitution, Nemanja Matic replaced Jadon Sancho and Edinson Cavani came on for Paul Pogba.
With United needing and chasing the three points, it seemed strange taking off one of our chief creators in Pogba, but Solskjaer wanted more stability alongside Scott McTominay with Unai Emery’s side looked a threat on the counter attack.
Matic was pleading with his teammates to settle down in possession, he brought a sense of calm and composure to United’s play and slowed down the tempo when things looked to be getting frantic.
Cavani was everywhere, he was hassling, pressing and forcing the Villarreal players to panic and make mistakes.
The Uruguayans energy is contagious and his teammates and the United crowd feed of the unselfish work he is willing to put in for the team.
When Matic got his wires crossed with Ronaldo and overhit a pass, Juan Foyth thought he had all the time in the world, but Cavani had other ideas, he made a lung-busting run and robbed the Argentine of possession which brought a roar of approval around Old Trafford.
The 34-year-old had a great chance to score from a tantalising Mason Greenwood cross, but United’s number 21 didn’t expect Aissa Mandi to miss the ball and his instinctive header went inches past the post.
With the game looking a little flat, the substitutes introductions reinvigorated the United crowd and players.
In the 89th minute, Solskjaer brought on Jesse Lingard and Fred and both of them played a role in Ronaldo’s last-gasp winner.
Fred who was covering at left-back swung in a cross which Ronaldo nodded down to Lingard, before the England international showed great intelligence to lay the ball back to United’s number seven who did the rest and sent Old Trafford into a feeling of absolute hysteria.
Solskjaer’s substitutions have been scrutinised this season but credit where credits due, he got his changes bang on against the Yellow Submarine.