VILLARREAL, Spain (AP) — A piece of improvisation by Cristiano Ronaldo helped send Manchester United into the last 16 of the Champions League as Michael Carrick’s spell as the English club’s interim manager began with a 2-0 win at Villarreal on Tuesday.
Scoring his fifth goal of the group stage, Ronaldo lobbed the goalkeeper with a first-time effort in the 78th minute to put United ahead.
Jadon Sancho then scored his first goal since his $100 million move to United, firing in off the underside of the crossbar in the 90th minute at the end of a sweeping counterattack that used to be a feature of the team under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Solskjaer is now gone, fired on Sunday following a run of woeful results that culminated in a humiliating 4-1 loss at Watford in the Premier League on Sunday.
Carrick, one of Solskjaer’s assistants, is filling in as a replacement until a more long-term interim is found and he put his stamp on the team by dropping Bruno Fernandes and starting Donny van de Beek.
Carrick oversaw a disciplined if limited performance by United until Ronaldo sparked an explosive ending with his 140th goal in the competition. He has scored in all five group-stage matches this season.
United is in first place on 10 points, three more than Villarreal and five clear of Atalanta, which plays Young Boys later.
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The Associated Press