Marouane Fellaini’s injury-time winner gave Manchester United a dramatic victory over Young Boys and sent his side into the last 16 of the Champions League.
With Juventus beating Valencia to remain top of Group H, United knew victory would send them through too but an all-too-familiar unconvincing home performance had seen them struggle to make the breakthrough.
As the board was put up to signal three minutes of injury time, United were still looking for their first goal at Old Trafford in Europe this season.
It arrived seconds later, when Fellaini collected Romelu Lukaku’s flick in the box from Luke Shaw’s pass, held off Loris Benito and, with the ball touching his hand in the process, turned to fire into the bottom corner.
The goal brought a delirious reaction from United boss Jose Mourinho, who flung a basket full of water bottles to the floor in celebration.
“For me it was not handball. I controlled the ball, if it touched my hand it was not on purpose,” said Fellaini.
His goal came from United’s 21st effort at goal, after Marcus Rashford and Fellaini had wasted good chances and the hosts appeared to have run out of ideas as the game entered its closing stages.
Fellaini came to the rescue, meaning United can go to Valencia for their final game with their progress secured and with a chance of topping the group.
United’s first task was to get to the ground on time, which they achieved despite the ongoing traffic problems that have caused them problems in getting to their European games this season.
Their next job was to put the ball in the net, but Rashford set the tone for the evening when he galloped clear in the fifth minute and fired wastefully over.
That left Mourinho staring at his bench in disbelief, and he was to see more golden opportunities go begging in the second half as Rashford slipped in front of goal and Fellaini blasted over from point-blank range.