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bounce back Michael Carrick gives verdict on Man United's win in Spain as new managerial contender emerges

Cristiano Ronaldo delivered yet another critical late Champions League goal before Jadon Sancho got his first in a Manchester United shirt

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Manchester United interim manager Michael Carrick

Manchester United interim manager Michael Carrick

Manchester United interim manager Michael Carrick

Manchester United interim manager Michael Carrick admitted his side knew they had to respond as they beat Villarreal 2-0 in the Champions League two days after the sacking of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

Cristiano Ronaldo delivered yet another critical late Champions League goal before Jadon Sancho got his first in a Manchester United shirt to give caretaker manager Michael Carrick a 2-0 victory over Villarreal.

United were far from convincing against a side 12th in LaLiga, but where there is Ronaldo there is a way and his sixth Champions League goal of the season, 12 minutes from time, set them on course for victory.

The Portuguese then helped start a move capped by Sancho in the last minute of the 90, with the England forward crashing a shot off the underside of the bar to confirm United’s place in the knockout stages and ending the three-match winless run that cost Ole Gunnar Solskjaer his job.

"We were ready for it tonight," declared Carrick. "They are a good team who make you work in possession.

"The boys had to dig in at times and showed a little bit of everything, so I was delighted with the way it ended.”

"When you have suffered results-wise and are not in good form, individually and as a team, it is not easy to come out and just let everything click.

"In some ways, it was the best way to win for me, that we had to show some character and fight.

"It has not been an easy couple of days for anyone at the club and that result almost feels like it is for Ole, I can’t get away from that.

"We had a job to do and things needed to be taken care of. I was happy to do it and thankfully it all went to plan in the end."

United captain Harry Maguire has been in horrible form over the last month and contributed to Solskjaer's exit as manager, yet he was part of a defence that kept a rare clean sheet in Spain.

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Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo reacts REUTERS/Pablo Morano

Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo reacts REUTERS/Pablo Morano

Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo reacts REUTERS/Pablo Morano

"It's massive for our season," said Maguire. "The last couple of months have been nowhere near good enough and we needed to get a result for our season and our fans. We need to make sure that's just the start and we push on.

"It was tough and edgy in the first half. It was important to stay in the game and I thought the lads who came off the bench really helped us push on and the second-half performance was really good.

"The emphasis was getting a result. Coming away from home in Europe you have to be solid. We got what we deserved in the end because of the chances we created.

"We want to be on the front foot and aggressive and in the first half maybe we played with too much fear. But we spoke about that and the first goal came from pressure.

"Ronaldo has been brilliant. We need to get back to being solid because if we do that we have every chance to win games when we have him up front."

Meanwhile, it has emerged that Manchester United have made preliminary contact with former Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde about the role of interim manager.

Despite widespread reports, United insiders have suggested it will be tough to extract Mauricio Pochettino from Paris Saint-Germain now, so an interim appointment is still being considered.

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