Cristiano Ronaldo capped his record-breaking Champions League appearance by firing Manchester United to a stunning late comeback win against Europa League final foes Villarreal.
Just four months on from the penalty shoot-out loss to Unai Emery’s side in Gdansk, the sides met again with the Red Devils needing to make up for their shock defeat at Young Boys in the Group F opener.
A disjointed United were staring down the barrel of a third straight home defeat in all competitions when Paco Alcacer deservedly put Villarreal ahead.
But Alex Telles’ sublime volley gave Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side hope and Ronaldo secured a 2-1 win in stoppage time, sending Old Trafford wild on the night he broke Iker Casillas’ all-time Champions League appearances record.
It was a box-office end to his 178th appearance in the competition and a relief to all those connected with United, after David De Gea had to produce some superb saves to keep Villarreal at bay in a one-sided first half.
The Spaniards continued to threaten after the break and finally capitalised on the hosts’ issues defending down the right early in the second period, with Alcacer turning home the impressive Arnaut Danjuma’s cross.
United levelled in stunning fashion soon after with Telles’ rocket from a smart Bruno Fernandes free-kick, but both sides looked to have blown glorious chances to win.
Yet, just as the match looked set to end level, Ronaldo struck in the fifth and final minute of stoppage time, meeting a smart Jesse Lingard touch with an unerring finish from an acute angle.