Ole Gunnar Solskjaer lauded Cristiano Ronaldo for his late winner against Villarreal, saying “there’s always a chance” when the Manchester United star is playing.
The Portugal captain made history on Wednesday as he made his 178th Champions League appearance, breaking the record held by Iker Casillas.
The 36-year-old marked the occasion with a 95th-minute goal to give United a 2-1 victory over Unai Emery’s side and avenge their shoot-out defeat in last season’s Europa League final.
Villarreal had not lost a game in normal time since a 2-1 defeat to Real Madrid on the final day of last season, and they fully deserved their lead at Old Trafford when Paco Alcacer converted Arnaut Danjuma’s cross.
Alex Telles blasted home a superb volley to level the scores before Ronaldo got United their first Champions League points of 2021-22, firing low past Geronimo Rulli after being teed up by Jesse Lingard.
“That’s what happens here at Old Trafford. It’s happened so many times before,” Solskjaer told BT Sport. “Of course, we had to throw caution to the wind, and we got lucky in the end.
“They’re a very, very hard team to beat, they’ve not lost since way before the [Europa League] final, and they’ve played some good teams.
“It’s a difficult one because we’re at home, we want to win, but they play so well that if we don’t go and press them, they’ll be happy enough sitting off.
“Sometimes, it’s not about pass there, pass there. It’s the crowd – they’ve sucked a few balls in before. When you’ve got Cristiano on the pitch, there’s always a chance.
“He’s so, so good in front of goal. He has an impact on everyone: the crowd, the players, the whole club.
“It’s massive for the players to win games in this fashion after we lost the [Villa] game in that fashion. It’s great.”
Lingard showed great poise to control Ronaldo’s header down from a Fred cross before presenting him with the chance to win the game, and Solskjaer admitted the England international probably deserves to be playing more often.
“Jesse was probably not happy at not playing more,” he said. “But he comes on, he makes an impact. That’s what you do when you’re a sub at this club.”
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