At last, Manchester United returns to the Champions League knockouts



A delightful moment came midway through the first half when Manchester United’s Juan Mata wheeled away with emotion when he was applauded by fellow countryman Sergio Ramos, the Real Madrid defender.

In what ended up being a routine 2-0 victory at Estadio Riazor, United made its first Champions League knockout stage appearance in seven years, while Villarreal missed out on a place in the next round.

While Manchester United rested David de Gea, Jesse Lingard, Wayne Rooney and Marouane Fellaini, Zlatan Ibrahimovic didn’t see a minute of action and Romelu Lukaku didn’t last long either, with José Mourinho giving way to Marcus Rashford as United looked to finish the tie with a bang.

Rashford began the game on the bench, but, with Rooney and Fellaini surprisingly sent off, Mourinho put the United youngster on for Mata after just 35 minutes. The only other substitution came when Sanchez and Paul Pogba were substituted before 20 minutes had been played.

Ander Herrera gave United a 10th-minute lead after Christian Stuani failed to clear a Herrera free kick. Alexis Sanchez wrapped up the game 10 minutes from time when his corner was inadvertently headed into his own net by Lucas.

Villarreal pushed forward with pace in the final stages of the game in a bid to salvage a point from the tie, but in the end United were glad to have made the final 16.

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