‘The subs brought so much energy to the game’: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer praised for sending on Jesse Lingard and Edinson Cavani by former Manchester United stars as they help seal dramatic late win over Villarreal
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been lauded for his late changes which helped Manchester United earn their first Champions League win of the season after last-minute drama at Old Trafford.
United had fell behind at home to Villarreal in the 53rd minute following a Paco Alcacer strike, before Alex Telles equalised with an excellent volley on the hour mark.
But with 15 minutes left, Solskjaer had still failed to call to his bench while his opposite number Unai Emery had already made all five of his substitutions.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer congratulates Jesse Lingard after Manchester United’s 2-1 victory
The midfielder lays the ball off for Cristiano Ronaldo (out of picture) whose resulting shot helped United defeat Villarreal in stoppage time in the Champions League encounter
The Red Devils found another gear though when Edinson Cavani and Nemanja Matic were introduced, while Jesse Lingard proved crucial when he was brought on a minute before regulation time was up along with Fred.
Lingard combined well with Cristiano Ronaldo following a Cavani cross in the fifth and final minute of stoppage time due to be played, teeing up United’s talisman to score a dramatic winning goal at Old Trafford and secure all three points.
Former United midfielder and Champions League winner Owen Hargreaves praised Solskjaer’s substitutions, saying they provided the energy to see the Red Devils over the line following a tough encounter with the spirited Spanish side.
‘When you have players like Cristiano Ronaldo, and Cavani who came on and really affected the game, Jesse Lingard as well, Ole Gunnar got his subs right,’ Hargreaves told BT Sport.
Along with Lingard, Edinson Cavani (left) was also introduced as a late substitute on the night
Cavani’s cross led to the dramatic scenes of Ronaldo scoring the late winner and the celebrations from the players in front of supporters in the aftermath (above)
‘He brought on players that could affect the game, they pushed forward, the energy was there, the crowd was up for it, and Cristiano Ronaldo rises to the occasion.’
Fellow pundit and ex-United striker Michael Owen echoed Hargreaves’ sentiments, but felt Solskjaer could have benefitted from bringing on Lingard earlier than the 89th minute.
‘The changes certainly did work for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. The subs brought so much energy to the game. Cavani, Jesse Lingard, I was surprised Lingard wasn’t the first substitute if I’m honest,’ Owen added on BT Sport.
‘I would’ve preferred to see Jesse Lingard come on earlier, around the hour mark. Cavani did come on but he also brought Matic on, and I was quite surprised at that.
Cavani shows his delight after his late cameo helped United pick up a vital three points
Ronaldo mobs the Uruguayan as well as fellow team-mate and goalkeeper David De Gea
‘He eventually did bring Jesse Lingard, who’s playing so well, it just gave energy. They just looked more of a team, there was a lot more movement up front. Cavani was outstanding when he came on.’
Owen believed the introductions of Cavani and Lingard were key to United’s victory at Old Trafford, with Solskjaer’s side having now picked up their first win following an opening night defeat at Young Boys where Solskjaer by contrast was criticised for his poor use of substitutions in a 2-1 loss in Switzerland.
‘It’s not necessarily about tactics, sometimes it’s just about pressure, it’s about running, getting people off their seats, dragging your teammates with you,’ he added.
‘You’ve got the energy, the impetus when you come on. You’ve got to lift the game, make something happen, and I thought Cavani did that and Jesse Lingard at the end was the icing on the cake.’