Manchester United beat Norwich City 3-2 at Old Trafford in the Premier League. Cristiano Ronaldo opened the scoring in the seventh minute, doubled the lead in the 32nd but Norwich got back through Kieran Dowell and Teemu Pukki before Ronaldo sealed his hat-trick.
United started out well at Old Trafford but it was Teemu Pukki who had the first shot on goal, which was saved by David De Gea. lost instantly, at the other end of the pitch Anthony Elanga saw his attempt to break the deadlock saved. This was not going to be an easy match for United.
Jadon Sancho had a chance in the fifth minute of the match with the ball played in by Jesse Lingard but the chance was blocked by Norwich, who were seeking to keep themselves in the game as long as they could with their relegation to the Championship just a few matches away.
In the seventh minute, Cristiano Ronaldo had an attempt on goal saved after Lingard played the ball into him but United kept the ball in a dangerous area with Elanga picking it up, playing it into the box and into Ronaldo, who opened the scoring for United in the seventh minute to a massive celebration.
In the 16th minute of the match, Alex Telles played the ball into Sancho, who was caught offside, which is something the England winger will need to overcome to make it at the club. Just a minute later, Diogo Dalot and Bruno Fernandes has attempts missed and blocked as United fought back.
After a lull in the match and after the protesting supporters made their way into the stadium, United had another chance on goal with Sancho’s effort missing the target after Lingard played the ball into him. Norwich seemed to be back in their own half defending which will not have been fun for them.
United continued to press Norwich in their own half, seemingly playing their best match in recent weeks – but with Norwich facing relegation it will not be seen as a major positive for United. This is how they should have played against Everton and Leicester City in their last two matches.
Heading into the half hour, United had two more chances with Sancho having his shot blocked dead on the half hour and then Lingard seeing his shot saved a minute later. It was a dominant display from United, who were tiring out their opposition at the Theatre of Dreams.
Ronaldo struck once against in the 32nd minute after winning a corner, which Telles took, finding Ronaldo’s head and the Theatre of Dreams erupted into yet another SIIUUU chant, which some on social media thought were boos based on the comments. United were 2-0 up and cruising.
In the 35th minute, Mathias Normann missed his shot with Pierre Lees-Melou having his blocked a minute later. Ronaldo then had a chance to seal a hat-trick in the 39th minute, but he missed the target. Pukki then had a chance before the break, missing the target.
That was not it though as Norwich got a goal back with Kieran Dowell finding the back of the net with Pukki providing the assist. It meant that United needed to work much harder in the second half which might even see the likes of Hannibal Mejbri and Alejandro Garnacho, which would be great.
There were no substitutions for either side at the start of the second half. United would need to raise their game in this half though to ensure that Norwich did not equaliser especially with Tottenham Hotspur losing earlier today and Arsenal currently losing 1-0 to Southampton.
Norwich managed to get an equaliser, which is something only United could give them this season – it is not the first time they have seen this happen. Pukki found the equaliser in the 52nd minute of the match, assisted by Dowell. De Gea then made a good save to deny Norwich from a third.
Rangnick made his first substitution in the 63rd minute of the match with Nemanja Matić replacing Lingard, which was a much-needed substitution with United struggling to contain the midfield against this Norwich side, which gives suggestion that this team is not trying.
With United still needing a goal and chances still not coming for them, Rangnick made a double substitution in the 74th minute with Marcus Rashford and Juan Mata replacing Telles and Pogba, who was booed by some supporters in the stadium.
Just two minutes after the substitution, United had won a free-kick and Ronaldo was standing over it. He beat Tim Krill from the set-piece to give United a 3-2 lead over the relegation fodder team who had embarrassed United earlier in the match. His second hat-trick of the season.
Arsenal were still 1-0 down against Southampton and with United now leading at home, it would raise them into fifth place in the Premier League with Arsenal still having a game in hand over United. For United to reach the top four now, they will need to win all of their matches.
Spurs losing has also strengthened United’s hand, albeit by a little bit. It is still there for United to let this slip and miss out on the UEFA Champions League once again, which could be for the best – missing out on all European competition would be a benefit.
Norwich had a few chances to find a second equaliser with United sitting back a little knowing that all they needed to do was dispossess the away side to get the all important three points from this match. If only United had raised their game against Everton and Leicester in recent weeks?
Five minutes were added on at the end of the second half giving Norwich time to push for a point from this match, which would be a devastating result for United based on their form and the chances created in the first half. Ronaldo’s hat-trick will be the main talking point here.
United got the three points and Arsenal fell to a 1-0 defeat to Southampton which sees United rise to fifth in the league, three points behind Spurs in fourth place. United now need to beat Liverpool on Tuesday to keep the pressure on Arsenal, who face Chelsea on Wednesday evening.
David De Gea: Made some good saves but was caught out by both Dowell and Pukki as Norwich came back from 2-0 down to give United problems in their bid to finish the season on a high. United’s defence needed to stand up and be counted, but did not. ★★★★★★★
Diogo Dalot: There was some eagerness from the Portuguese right-back but in terms of strength, there is a void in his game which could hinder United in the future. It seems that another right-back is needed for United to kick on next season. Had some good blocking involvement. ★★★★★★
Victor Lindelöf: Seemed positive in the first half, making a great intervention but was then let down by teammates. Not the greatest when he played Pukki onside – something that Varane would have controlled. He’s one of the better defensive options at the club. ★★★★★
Harry Maguire: For a player to wear the captains arm band, he lacks authority. I am sick of seeing this at United. Keane, Vidic, Ferdinand, Rooney and even Carrick were more vocal. This is why United are stagnating. No leadership. The defence was porous against Norwich. ★★★★★
Alex Telles: Got his third assist of the season with Ronaldo scoring his second goal of the match. Allowed Dowell to run through unmarked before his goal. Did not seem all that interested in the second half, jogging through it like Pogba does. Replaced by Rashford. ★★★★
Bruno Fernandes: Showed commitment but in terms of quality, there was little coming from his performance. It has been similar during many matches. Ronaldo was on fire in stages and Fernandes was never really out of first gear. ★★★★
Paul Pogba: Seemed interested in the first half but that seemed to die in the second. The worst Premier League team this season bettered United’s midfield. Replaced by Mata and was booed off. The rumours of a £500,000 a week new deal has to be a joke. Goodbye. ★★★★
Jesse Lingard: Seemed lively from the start of the match and had plenty of moments of creavity, also having chances of his own against Norwich. It was his best match in ages, his first match in ages. Perhaps should have stayed on the pitch but was replaced by Matić. ★★★★★★★
Anthony Elanga: Got his first assist of the season for Ronaldo’s opening goal of the match. Got the better of Gibson, who was dithering in the Norwich defence. Offered lots of energy in attack and was blistering on the right. A great youth player needing some more experience. ★★★★★★
Cristiano Ronaldo: Hat-trick hero. Got two goals in the first half and with Norwich getting a goal before the end of the first half, then an equaliser in the second, he stood up and made himself counted. His second hat-trick of the season. 21 goals scored this season. ★★★★★★★★★
Jadon Sancho: Got a lot of the ball but sadly did little with it. Seemed have joy on the left, which is where he has played some blistering football but failed to get something done against Norwich. He was switched to the right when Rashford was brought on. ★★★★★
Nemanja Matić: Replaced Lingard 63′. Had a positive impact as he was brought on to add something to United’s midfield. United got the winner with him on the pitch. He’s going to be a big loss when this season ends and a replacement will be needed. ★★★★★★★
Marcus Rashford: Replaced Telles 74′. He seems devoid of confidence and no matter how many chances he’s given, nothing seems to change. There is reason why Elanga is ahead of him. He can be a great player but right now, he’s a liability most of the time. ★★★★
Juan Mata: Replaced Pogba 74′. I would have liked to see Hannibal or Garnacho instead of him. He saw an effort blocked and showed that despite his speed letting him down, his footballing brain was still working. I don’t think he did much wrong in all fairness. ★★★★★★
Goals: Cristiano Ronaldo 7′, 32′, 76′; Kieran Dowell 45 +1′, Teemu Pukki 52′
Assists: Anthony Elanga 7′, Alex Telles 32′; Teemu Pukki 45+1′, Kieran Dowell 52′
Manchester United: De Gea; Dalot, Lindelöf, Maguire, Telles (Rashford 74′); Fernandes, Pogba (Mata 74′), Lingard (Matić 63′); Elanga, Ronaldo, Sancho
Substitutes Not Used: Henderson; Bailly, Jones, Wan-Bissaka; Hannibal; Garnacho
Written by John Walker