Man Utd boss Solskjaer labels De Gea 'best goalkeeper in the world' after Champions League display

By Sports Desk September 29, 2021

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer hailed David de Gea as the "best goalkeeper in the world" following his heroics in the stunning Champions League win over Villarreal.

Cristiano Ronaldo struck in the 95th minute to lift United past Villarreal 2-1 in a last-gasp comeback at Old Trafford on Wednesday.

United were fortunate to be on level terms at half-time – De Gea producing a number of saves to thwart Villarreal in a rematch of last season's Europa League final.

Paco Alcacer did find a way past De Gea in the second half, but Alex Telles' sublime volley and Ronaldo's stoppage-time winner ensured United opened their Group F account following the club's matchday one defeat.

Following a difficult 2020-21 campaign, criticism in the wake of the Europa League final loss to Villarreal and doubts over his future after Dean Henderson's return to the Theatre of Dreams, Solskjaer lauded De Gea.

"A very difficult game against a very good team. First half, we had lots of possession, but they counter-attack really well, transition, attack quickly and created some big, big moments in the game," Solskjaer said during his post-match news conference.

"Thankfully, we had the best goalkeeper in the world tonight. David was fantastic and very happy with his performance. Second half. They had more of the ball. It was still open and they deserved to lead.

"But, you know, Old Trafford is magic, Champions League, Old Trafford, sometimes that history can help us. And tonight, Cristiano [Ronaldo], of course, came up with a good goal. And Alex [Telles] scored a fantastic goal."

On De Gea, who made six saves, Solskjaer added: "You are probably right that he had a difficult summer after that [final with Villarreal]. Of course, he went to the Euros, didn't play there, but he's really come back with a determination and work rate that I've enjoyed. And today he got this again.

"He got a deserved outcome because he's saved us. Tonight, we have to be realistic and say that without David, of course, we've got two very good keepers with Tom [Heaton] and Dean [Henderson], but today David deserves the man of the match."

United have lost only once in their last 13 home games in all European competition (W10 D2), with Ronaldo the first Red Devils player to score a 90th-minute winner in the Champions League since Marouane Fellaini against Young Boys in November 2018.

Ronaldo (36 years and 236 days) became the second oldest United player to score a goal in European competition at Old Trafford after Bryan Robson (36y 282d) against Galatasaray in 1993.

No player has scored more 90th-minute winning goals in Champions League history than Ronaldo (three) – level with Sergio Aguero.

It comes after United superstar Ronaldo, who made his 178th Champions League appearance, broke the record for most games played by a single player.

Diogo Dalot said: "When you add Cristiano to the team, it's always a plus. Like I said, many times, he's a fantastic player on and outside the pitch. He gives us energy. But we are a proper team.

"We give to Cristiano as well to help have these moments. Like we saw many times he can be very decisive until the end. But today was a team effort until the end. And we're so glad that Cristiano could score that goal at the end."

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