Manchester United qualified for the Champions League knockout stage with a game to spare after the appointment of a new manager and another opportunistic finish by Cristiano Ronaldo.
Another freshly hired coach, on the other hand, still has work to do to lead Barcelona to the last 16.
Following Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s weekend dismissal, United were led for the first time by Michael Carrick, and, like his predecessor, the interim manager was left grateful for a goal by the Champions League’s all-time leading scorer.
Ronaldo’s brilliant lobbed finish put United ahead against Villarreal on Tuesday, and Jadon Sancho’s 90th-minute strike—his first since arriving for $100 million in the offseason—sealed a 2-0 victory and secured United’s progression as Group F winners. Ronaldo has scored in each of the group’s five games so far and currently has a career-high 140 Champions League goals.
Another English club, reigning champions Chelsea, progressed as well, thanks to a 4-0 victory against already-qualified Juventus, who suffered its biggest Champions League defeat ever.
With Liverpool already qualifying and Manchester City expected to join them in the knockout round, the Premier League will once again be strongly represented.
Barcelona, currently managed by former star player Xavi Hernandez, has moved from its group in each of the last almost two decades, but a 0-0 stalemate at home to Benfica means the Spanish team may need to defeat Bayern Munich in the last round of games to advance.
All four clubs in Group G are separated by three points and have a chance to qualify to go into their final games with victories against Salzburg and Wolfsburg for Lille and Sevilla, respectively.
Chelsea Also Through
For Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel, it was a difficult evening.
Juventus’ hammering, which included goals from academy graduates Trevoh Chalobah, Reece James, Callum Hudson-Odoi, and Timo Werner, was overshadowed by knee injuries to important players N’Golo Kante and Ben Chilwell.
Kante was substituted in the first half, while Chilwell seemed to be in pain as he was assisted off the field in the 71st minute.
Chelsea and Juventus, who are equal on 12 points with one game remaining, each started an American in Christian Pulisic or Weston McKennie. They were two of six Americans to begin Tuesday’s group play, setting a record for a single night of group play.