Cristiano Ronaldo scored a dramatic 95th-minute goal to help Manchester United win 2-1 against Villarreal in the Champions League on Wednesday.
The Spanish side started brighter, creating a slew of chances, but United goalkeeper David de Gea was in superb form.
Paco Alcácer of Spain finally broke the deadlock for the visitors just after halftime, tapping home from close range.
A superb volleyed equalizer from Brazilian left-back Alex Telles leveled the scores, before Ronaldo rifled home from inside the box to rescue Manchester United at Old Trafford, as he has done countless times before.
It was an even more important win for the three-time Champions League winners after losing its first group match of the season at Young Boys in Switzerland.
Ronaldo admitted that the game was a “struggle” after saving his team’s blushes.
“We had a little bit of a struggle because we knew before the game that we must win the game,” the 36-year-old told the media. “It was tough, the team was a little nervous, especially, well, first and second half to be honest.
“But we had a little bit of luck as well, that we didn’t have in the last game. It was good. It was good. A great attitude from our players, the fans pushed us a lot. After the Telles goal, we believed, we believed. Because here, in this stadium, the history that this club has, it is possible to do it. We believed. I said to the players in the tunnel before the second half that we should believe.”
It seemed only fitting that Ronaldo would score in dramatic fashion to steal the show on what was a record-breaking night for him.
After passing former Real Madrid teammate Iker Casillas to become the all-time leading appearance maker in the Champions League, the Portuguese international was playing his 178th match.
With his goal on Wednesday, Ronaldo now has 136 goals in the Champions League, with Lionel Messi in second place with 121 goals.
But against Villarreal, things did not go well for the English giants, as Unai Emery’s side got off to a strong start.
Villarreal caused United a slew of problems thanks to the pace and slick passing of Alcácer and Arnaut Danjuma, and United was left scratching its head as to how it didn’t score in the first half.
But Alcácer poked home from Danjuma’s low cross just eight minutes after the halftime break to give the visitors the lead.
The goal seemed to jolt the home side into action, and it took a sweetly struck volley from Telles on the hour mark to level the score.
And just as the game appeared to be heading for a disappointing draw for Manchester United after Edinson Cavani squandered a glorious chance to win it, Ronaldo appeared.
Jesse Lingard’s deft touch set the ball up for Cristiano Ronaldo, who blasted the ball home from an acute angle with Villarreal goalkeeper Gerónimo Rulli off his line to salvage three points.
“That is what happens at Old Trafford,” manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer told BT Sport. “It has happened so many times before. We had to throw caution to the wind and we got lucky in the end.
“Sometimes it’s not about ‘pass there, pass there,’ it’s about the crowd — and they’ve sucked it in before — and you always have a chance when Cristiano is on the pitch.” He has such a strong presence in front of goal and has an impact on everyone.”