Ronaldo helps save Man Utd yet again as Portuguese star sets new mark for Champions League dominance
Cristiano Ronaldo set a new benchmark for English clubs in the Champions League as the veteran striker once more came to Manchester United's rescue in the competition on Tuesday.
Ronaldo was on hand to net an opportune lofted strike over the head of Geronimo Rulli after a glaring error from the Villarreal keeper.
It broke the deadlock at 1-0 and leaves the Reds safely qualified for the knock-out phase with Jadon Sancho joining Ronaldo on the scoresheet.
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Champions League hero
United went into Tuesday's game knowing that, despite their woes domestically, a draw would be good enough to seal passage to the Champions League last 16.
That is largely down to Ronaldo, who netted in all four of their opening games, including late winners against both Villarreal and Atalanta at Old Trafford.
With just over 10 minutes to go the ex-Real Madrid and Juventus star struck again, after Rulli's sloppy pass out from the back was intercepted and fell his way.
Ronaldo sent the ball back over the Argentine keeper and into the net, finally getting United on the scoresheet after a tense evening in Spain.
It was his sixth goal in this year's tournament and the fifth consecutive match in which he has found the net, marking a first for a player from an English club.
The bigger picture
Cristiano's strike put United firmly on top, and they doubled their advantage just before the end through Sancho.
The Red Devils sit first in Group F, three points clear of Villarreal and five ahead of Atalanta, who play later on Tuesday against Young Boys.
United's European exploits have proved a welcome distraction from the toils of the Premier League, which forced Ole Gunnar Solskjaer out of his job at the weekend after the club fell to Watford 4-1.
Ronaldo has also struggled to repeat his Champions League form domestically, scoring four times in nine games since returning to Old Trafford and just once in his last seven outings, a run in which United have fallen to five defeats and won just once.