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last gasp Ole Gunnar Solskjaer gets out of jail once again as Cristiano Ronaldo saves Man United

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Cristiano Ronaldo of Manchester United celebrates their side's victory after the UEFA Champions League group F match between Manchester United and Villarreal CF at Old Trafford on September 29, 2021 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Cristiano Ronaldo of Manchester United celebrates their side's victory after the UEFA Champions League group F match between Manchester United and Villarreal CF at Old Trafford on September 29, 2021 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Cristiano Ronaldo of Manchester United celebrates their side's victory after the UEFA Champions League group F match between Manchester United and Villarreal CF at Old Trafford on September 29, 2021 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

There have been so many occasions when it looked as if Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was entering the last chance saloon as Manchester United manager over the last three years and once again, his players dug him out of a hole in dramatic fashion.

Cristiano Ronaldo capped his record-breaking Champions League appearance by firing United to a stunning late comeback win against Europa League final foes Villarreal.

Just four months on from the penalty shoot-out loss to Unai Emery’s side in Gdansk, the sides met again with the Red Devils needing to make up for their shock defeat at Young Boys in the Group F opener.

A disjointed United were staring down the barrel of a third straight home defeat in all competitions when Paco Alcacer deservedly put Villarreal ahead.

But Alex Telles' sublime volley gave Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side hope and Ronaldo secured a 2-1 win in stoppage time, sending Old Trafford wild on the night he broke Iker Casillas’ all-time Champions League appearances record.

It was a box-office end to his 178th appearance in the competition and a relief to all those connected with United, after David De Gea had to produce some superb saves to keep Villarreal at bay in a one-sided first half.

And so once more, Solskjaer has hauled himself back from the bring with a less than convincing win, with Bruno Fernandes suggesting they worked to get their last gasp winner.

"I always had the feeling we could win the game and when they scored I felt we could come again and turn it around," he told BT Sport. "After the goal of Alex, the push from the fans was unbelievable. Some amazing saves from David [De Gea] to keep the score at 1-1. Then at the end... strikers have that feeling to score and Cristiano helps us again.

"We finished with two strikers and we know any ball in the box they will be alive to it. We know they can score at any moment and that is why we continue with crosses. We are happy with three points."

This was history repeating itself.

When a draw with Aston Villa in December 2019 left Manchester United ninth in the Premier League table, Solskjaer found a way to produce wins against Jose Mourinho's Tottenham and Pep Guardiola's Man City.

There have been other occasions when it seemed as if the clock was ticking on Solskjaer's United reign, but his team find a result to save him and he was in defiant mood after this latest win.

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"That is what happens at Old Trafford," declared the United boss. "It has happened so many times before.

"We had to throw caution to the wind and we got lucky in the end. They are a very hard team to play, a very hard team to beat. It is a difficult one because we are at home we want to win. But if we don't go and press them they will be happy enough sitting off.

"Sometimes it is not about 'pass there, pass there', it is the crowd - and they have sucked it in before - and when you have Cristiano on the pitch you always have a chance. He is so good in front of goal and he has an impact on everyone.

"It is massive for the players, to win a game in this fashion after we lost a game in Berne in that fashion. Every game is hard at this level. You see results you don't see very often, like yesterday. The margins are so small."

Despite the latest intervention and the euphoric reaction from the United fans at the end of the game, #OleOut was still trending on Twitter throughout Wednesday evening after a game that could easily have swung in the direction of Villarreal.

Now United have to build on the momentum created by a much-needed Champions League win when Everton come to Old Trafford in the Premier League on Sunday.

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