Late goals from Cristiano Ronaldo and Jadon Sancho were enough to earn an underwhelming Manchester United a 2-0 victory at Villarreal on Tuesday that guarantees them a spot in the Champions League knockout stages.
United came into the contest knowing victory would see them through to the last 16 with one group match left to play, but in Michael Carrick’s first game as interim manager, United looked shorn of ideas in attack in the Estadio de la Ceramica.
The home side had much the better chances, with United goalkeeper David de Gea bailing his side out with several fines saves, the best of which denied Manu Trigueros a goal.
Out of nowhere, however, a poor pass from Villarreal keeper Geronimo Rulli that was miscontrolled by Etienne Capoue was then seized upon by Ronaldo, who lofted the ball over the stranded Rulli to give United the lead in the 78th minute.
As the home side pressed for an equaliser, the visitors countered in the 90th minute with Sancho hammering home to put the game to bed and send United top of Group F with 10 points, three ahead of Villarreal, who can no longer catch Carrick’s side due to their inferior head-to-head record.
COVID-hit Bayern seal top spot with 2-1 win at Dynamo
Bayern Munich, missing half a dozen players to COVID-19 quarantine, edged past Dynamo Kyiv 2-1 on Tuesday to secure top spot in Champions League Group E with a game to spare.
First-half goals from striker Robert Lewandowski, who struck with a spectacular 14th-minute overhead kick, and Kingsley Coman three minutes from halftime and amid heavy snowfall, put the German champions in front.
Dynamo, who are now eliminated from the competition, cut the deficit with their maiden group-stage goal through Denys Garmash in the 70th.
They then forced Bayern keeper Manuel Neuer to make a fine save in the 75th and hit the post in stoppage time as they looked for an equaliser with a strong finish.
The Bavarians, desperate to bounce back from Friday’s shock 2-1 loss to Augsburg in the Bundesliga, top the group on 15 points with five wins from five games.
Barcelona, who face Benfica later, are in second place on six and the Portuguese side are third on four, with Dynamo bottom on one point.