Manchester United had to rely on a last-minute Cristiano Ronaldo strike to seal a victory against a well-organised Villarreal side in an entertaining Champions League encounter.
The Red Devils were searching for their first points in Group F on Wednesday night after an opening day defeat away at Young Boys, but it was another underwhelming performance from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s charges.
Alex Telles’ magnificent volley and Ronaldo’s dramatic first-time finish earned a comeback win for the Old Trafford outfit, although it could have been a different story if it wasn’t for their in-form goalkeeper.
A bright start from the visitors forced David de Gea into an early save after Arnaut Danjuma drove his effort towards goal, and the Spanish shot-stopper would be called into action on several occasions in the remainder of the half.
Danjuma again stung the palms of De Gea just 10 minutes later, this time firing across the keeper’s body, but he was able to force the former Bournemouth winger’s strike wide when at full stretch.
Just moments later, United’s No.1 was called into action once more, this time tipping a glancing header from Villarreal striker Paco Alcacer over his crossbar.
The remainder of the first half carried on in a similar fashion, with De Gea repelling the La Liga’s outfit’s advances via some outstanding saves, yet the deadlock was finally broken just eight minutes after the interval.
This time, Alcacer’s effort squeezed between his compatriot’s legs after latching onto another Danjuma cross, although it didn’t take the shine off of what was a classic performance from the 30-year-old gem.
As per SofaScore, De Gea received a match rating of 7.7 out of 10, the highest total awarded to any player on the pitch. And when looking at his underlying numbers, it’s easy to understand why.
The ex-Atletico Madrid ace made a huge six saves on the night, all from within his own penalty box. He also achieved a passing accuracy of 100%, illustrating his ability with the ball at his feet and picked out a teammate with both of his attempted long balls.
It’s been a fabulous return to form for De Gea after several years struggling for consistency between the sticks, and he’ll now be hoping to continue in a similar vein for the remainder of the campaign.