VILLARREAL • Manchester United caretaker boss Michael Carrick has dedicated the team's 2-0 Champions League win over Villarreal on Tuesday to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who was dismissed on Sunday.
The Group F victory at the Estadio de la Ceramica meant that the Red Devils have secured their passage into the knockout stage of the competition with a game to spare, thanks to late goals from Cristiano Ronaldo and Jadon Sancho.
"I have enjoyed it, I've really enjoyed it, the whole thing and the support I've had," said Carrick of his first taste as a manager.
"I said to the players, it's not been an easy couple of days for everyone at the club and I can enjoy it so much but at the same point still, that result feels like it's for Ole. I can't get away from that.
"But without dwelling on it, we had a job to do and when I was there and things needed to be taken care of, I was happy to do it. Thankfully it all went to plan."
United needed a win to confirm a top-two finish in the group. But they were under massive pressure as defeat would have left their fate out of their own hands.
David de Gea made two crucial saves and United - boosted by Carrick's timely second-half substitutions as he introduced Marcus Rashford and Bruno Fernandes to inject pace and creativity - took advantage via Ronaldo's 78th-minute lob.
His goal was the 799th of his career, his 140th in the Champions League and his sixth in the competition this season.
Sancho, often a peripheral figure since his big-money move from Borussia Dortmund in the summer, then capped a fine individual display with his first United goal.
Carrick added that he was not surprised Ronaldo delivered again in their win, adding: "It's what he does. In the big games, the big moments, when you need a goal, he's there to deliver.
"He has that cold, calculated mentality to stay calm. He doesn't snatch at chances. I'm delighted to have him and not surprised he managed to come up with a goal for us."
Carrick, 40, is expected to remain in position for Sunday's game at English Premier League leaders Chelsea, as United continue their search for an interim manager until the end of the season.
Meanwhile, Villarreal boss Unai Emery admitted that his side did not deserve to win.
He said: "I maintain that for 60 or 70 minutes we were better, but in the end, they were the better side and we were unable to create enough to win the tie. I accept a defeat like this."
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS