Man United, Chelsea through in Champions League, Barcelona made to wait

Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo, centre, celebrates with Marcus Rashford, left and Fred after scoring the opening goal during a Group F Champions League soccer match between Villarreal and Manchester United at the Ceramica stadium in Villarreal, Spain, Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2021. (Alberto Saiz/AP)

Energized by a change of manager and another opportunistic finish by Cristiano Ronaldo, Manchester United qualified for the knockout stage of the Champions League with a game to spare on Tuesday.

Another newly appointed coach sill has work to do, though, to get Barcelona into the last 16.

United was led for the first time by Michael Carrick following the weekend firing of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and, just like his predecessor, the interim manager was left to be thankful for a goal by the Champions League's record scorer.

Ronaldo produced a sublime lobbed finish to put United ahead against Villarreal and a 90th-minute strike by Jadon Sancho -- his first goal since joining for $100 million in the offseason -- sealed a 2-0 win to secure progress from Group F. Ronaldo has scored in all five group games so far, and now has a record-extending 140 Champions League goals in his career.

Another English team, defending champion Chelsea, also advanced on the back of a 4-0 win over already-qualified Juventus. With Liverpool also qualified and Manchester City likely to join them, the Premier League will again be well represented in the knockout stage.

Barcelona, now coached by former star midfielder Xavi Hernandez, has advanced from its group every season for almost two decades but a 0-0 draw at home to Benfica means the Spanish club might need to beat Bayern Munich in the final round of games to advance.

All four teams in Group G could still qualify heading into their last games after wins for Lille and Sevilla over Salzburg and Wolfsburg, respectively.

Meanwhile, Bayern has five wins from five after beating Dynamo Kiev 2-1, with an overhead kick by Robert Lewandowski setting the German champions on their way.

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