Juventus vs Chelsea, Manchester United vs Villarreal; 3 things, final scores
A pair of Premier League powers helped themselves to tasty Wednesday ties in the UEFA Champions League.
One lost. One needed 90-plus minutes to win.
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There was plenty to learn about Manchester United and Chelsea from their matches with Villarreal and Juventus, respectively. At least three things to learn, in fact.
So, yes, we know, it’s six things we learned all together.
Three things we learned from Juventus vs Chelsea
1. Managers, players wait for mistakes: Chelsea had a lot of the ball but the best chances of the first 20 minutes went to Max Allegri’s visitors on the counter, as Federico Chiesa burst into the Blues’ end and dragged a shot wide of Edouard Mendu’s far post. Juve held firm at one end in the face of possession, and waited for another chance. Chiesa got it and this time delivered, and you’d be silly to think there would be too many more chances from Juve and/or open play the rest of the way, but you’d only be half-right.
2. Juve’s Ex-Fiorentina Federicos flash credentials: Federico Chiesa was the Man of the Match but he needed a slick feed from Federico Bernadeschi to get on the score sheet, as two players Juventus took from Fiorentina -- not in incontroversial fashion -- pushed The Old Lady in front of the PL champions.
3. Late chances come for both sides: Dejan Kulusevski entered in the 65th and both Weston McKennie and Moise Kean joined the fray a dozen minutes later, and the trio was clearly geared toward bringing more threat with their fresh legs. McKennie sent Kulusevski into the left side of the box not too long after coming into the game. It felt like they could rue the failure to make it 2-0 when Romelu Lukaku turned Leonardo Bonucci in the 83rd, but the Belgian sent his effort just over the bar.
Man of the Match: Federico Chiesa
Three things we learned from Manchester United vs Villarreal
1. Man United gets a win to hopefully end dog days: The appearance of lethargy dogs pretty much any team for at least one period a season and Manchester United is undoubtedly in it. The first half was very Villarreal as David De Gea needed to make some huge saves to keep the match scoreless. United entered this game losers of three in four across all competitions and anyone watching would have no trouble spotting the evidence, but Villarreal somehow lost sight of Cristiano Ronaldo (?!?) at the back post as Solskjaer’s superstar striker bailed him out. Wins matter.
2. Ronaldo bails out Ole: It was apparent from Moment No. 1 that Diogo Dalot was getting roasted by Arnaut Danjuma, the former Bournemouth man, and it felt certain that United just wanted to get to the break before making a change. They didn’t. Danjuma did it again and crossed to Paco Alcacer for the finish. Unai Emery most certainly has Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s number despite an overwhelming disadvantage in big names, and the ineffectiveness or total ignorance of players who’ve shined elsewhere -- Donny van de Beek and Jadon Sancho among them -- is not a good look for a boss who came within moments of winning once in five matches.
3. The training ground, though: Alex Telles’ strike to level the game was a sensational bit of technique and came off a short-played corner. As much as we’re second-guessing Ole for not subbing his right back (Thing No. 2), his left back capitalized on a fine designed play in the 61st minute.
Man of the Match: Bruno Fernandes
Cases could be made for Arnaut Danjuma or David De Gea, maybe even Ronaldo given the dramatic winner. Danjuma was a menace with his four shots, three successful dribbles (on five attempts), and two key passes. He required constant attention and delivered on the left. But Fernandes assisted the first goal and completed 7-of-7 long passes as part of an artistic day.