Unai Emery accepts that Manchester United’s second-half double change won them the game

Villarreal welcomed Manchester United to Estadio de la Cerámica this evening in the Champions League, with the visitors running out 2-0 winners. The result means that United have now assured qualification for the last 16 of the competition while Villarreal are going to have to try to get it over the line on the final matchday.

United came into the game having sacked Ole Gunnar Solskjaer on Sunday morning following a disastrous 4-1 defeat at the hands of Watford at Vicarage Road the afternoon before. Michael Carrick has taken temporary charge. Villarreal drew 1-1 with Celta Vigo at Estadio de Balaídos at the weekend.

Villarreal started the game the better of the two sides, dominating possession for the first hour of the tie and carving out the better of the chances. Carrick brought on Bruno Fernandes and Marcus Rashford shortly after the 60th minute, however, and the tide of the game soon turned.

Cristiano Ronaldo put United ahead in the 78th minute. Villarreal were slack playing out from the back and Fred managed to win the ball before turning it over to the Portuguese, who finished coolly. Jadon Sancho added a second – his first for his new club – in the 90th minute to seal a fine victory, smashing the ball into the top right corner of the net to put the result beyond all doubt.

“I’m going to stay with the positive, of a very good 60 minutes played against Manchester, the favourite of this group,” Unai Emery said post-match in comments carried by Marca. “We stopped them from running at us and we didn’t allow them any chances. The changes helped them and after that we were no longer the same. They took things up a level and we lost control. [David] de Gea was once again a decisive goalkeeper.

“We made a mistake with the first goal, but it’s a mistake that comes from our strength, that of keeping the ball. Of course, we have to minimise errors, but the goal could have come before that because [Gerónimo] Rulli had already made a good save from Sancho. I maintain that for 60 or 70 minutes we were better than the favourite, but in the end they were the better side and we were unable to create enough to win the tie. I accept a defeat like this. Now we will play against Atalanta to try to qualify.”

Tags Champions League Unai Emery Villarreal