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Champions League soccer: Ronaldo carries Manchester United; Barcelona stays winless

Champions League soccer: Ronaldo carries Manchester United; Barcelona stays winless
Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo scored the game-winning goal and set the record for the most Champions League appearances for a player in a 2-1 win over Villarreal on Wednesday in Manchester, England. Photo by Peter Powell/EPA-EFE

Sept. 30 (UPI) -- Cristiano Ronaldo scored in stoppage time to lift Manchester United to a dramatic win over Villarreal in the group stage of the Champions League. Barcelona dropped to 0-2 in group play at the major soccer tournament.

Ronaldo's clutch score came in the fifth minute of stoppage time in the Red Devils' 2-1 victory Wednesday at Old Trafford in Manchester, England.

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Ronaldo, 36, also set the record for the most appearances by a player in Champions League history by playing in his 182nd Champions League match.

"Unbelievable! Another chapter, another beautiful chapter, so I'm so happy to score the winning goal and the way I did it," Ronaldo told the team website.

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"The most appearances in history and to score a goal. A great night. I have to mention the attitude of the team, which is the most important [thing]."

Neither team scored in the first half of the Group F match. Villarreal striker Paco Alcacer broke the deadlock in the 53rd minute.

Fellow forward Arnaut Danjuma received a through ball in the left side of the box during that sequence. He then smacked a cross toward the goal.

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Alcacer slid into the area and deflected the feed through the legs of Red Devils keeper David de Gea for a 1-0 lead.

Left back Alex Telles equalized for Manchester United in the 60th minute. Center midfielder Bruno Fernandez took a free kick from outside the right side of the box to spark that score. He chipped the attempt to the top of the box.

Telles stood in the area and waited for the ball to land. He used his first touch for a powerful volley into the right side of the net.

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The score stayed tied for the next 30 minutes, despite several close chances for a game winner. Ronaldo then provided the final blow to give his Red Devils a victory.

Ronaldo headed down a feed inside the box to find midfielder Jesse Lingard in front of the net. Lingard used his next touch to tap the ball back to Ronaldo just before he fell to the ground.

The star striker sent in a shot, which deflected Villarreal keeper Geronimo Rulli's left hand and went into the net.

The Red Devils face Italian Serie A squad Atalanta in their third group stage match at 3 p.m. EDT Oct. 20 at Old Trafford. They recorded one win and one loss so far in Group F.

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Atalanta leads the group with one win and one tie.

German Bundesliga power Bayern Munich, RB Salzburg of Austria's Bundesliga, Serie A's Juventus and Zenit of the Russian Premier League joined Atalanta with wins Wednesday in the Champions League.

Benfica, of Portugal's Primeira Liga, shut out Spanish La Liga foe Barcelona 3-0 on Wednesday in Lisbon, Portugal. Barcelona sits in last place in Group E with an 0-2 record. Bayern (2-0) leads that group.

Champions League group play continues with matches on Oct. 19 and 20. Group stage games run through Dec. 8. The Champions League Round of 16 starts with the first round of games on Feb. 15 and 16.

The 2021-22 Champions League final is May 28 in St. Petersburg, Russia.

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