Manchester United beat Norwich City 1-0 at Carrow Road in the Premier League on Saturday evening. Just one goal separated the two sides which was scored from the penalty spot by none other than Cristiano Ronaldo in the 75th minute of the match. It was not a great display by Ralf Rangnick’s side but David De Gea could hold his head high, making save after save to deny Norwich from getting a goal, which could have seen United lose this match. There is lots of work required for this United team and they need to become much better than this. Brentford will not be a push over on Tuesday evening.
It was a slow start for United against Norwich. United’s pressing was not the best and you would expect something better from a team that, at least the majority, had a week off. It showed that time was needed to get this United side ticking away. I’m not sure the 4-2-2 formation is the best fit for United. Scott McTominay had a shot on goal in the 11th minute of the match, but it was blocked. Three minutes later, Alex Telles had a shot which was high with Tim Krill making the save to deny United from opening the scoring. In the 21st minute of the match, Grant Hanley was replaced by Jacob Sørensen because of an injury.
Between the 32nd and 39th minutes of the match, Jadon Sancho, Cristiano Ronaldo and Marcus Rashford all had chances on goal with the first two being saved and Rashford missing his effort. It seemed that United, despite their experience on the pitch, needed to try much harder to break the deadlock. In the resulting minutes both Lukas Rupp and Teemu Pukki has chances on goal which were blocked. This Norwich side, despite being cemented to the bottom of the Premier League table, were up for the fight, as they were in the last match here between them and United.
Towards the end of the half, which looked set to be a 0-0 draw, Harry Maguire had a shot on goal, played in by Sancho, but the save was made. It seemed that this was going to be a bad day at the office for United. Improvement needed to come but there was plenty of time to instil that with Rangnick at the helm. United needed to ensure they get wins in these matches in order to give that time as if the players continue to hide, like some of them have done for more than one manager, this manager would not lose and players would be shifted on from the club, whatever the cost would be for the club.
There were no changes for either side at the start of the second half. United needed to take this chance to get the three points up for grabs as losing to this Norwich side would be more embarrassing than the 4-1 defeat to Watford, who have failed to win a match since that victory over United. McTominay had a shot blocked two minutes into the second half with Przemyslaw Placheta seeing David De Gea make a fine save to deny him in the same minute. It seemed that both teams were up for getting ahead in this match and it would be a survival of the fittest. Fred had a shot in the 50th minute, which was against blocked.
Bruno Fernandes tried to feed Rashford a through ball in the 54th minute but he was ruled offside, ending the attack there and then. Pukki had another chance in the 57th minute, which was saved by De Gea, who was showing his ability in goal in this match. Sørensen had a header from close-range blocked by before the hour mark of the match and Rashford missed again two minutes later. Rangnick made his first substitution in the 67th minute of the match with Mason Greenwood replacing Sancho. Todd Cantwell replaced Placheta in the 70th minute of the match with Norwich seeking to freshen their attack.
United won a penalty in the 73rd minute of the match after Max Aarons fouled Ronaldo. The penalty was delayed as Victor Lindelof seemed injured and unable to continue. Rangnick sent Eric Bailly on in replacement for the Swede. Ronaldo converted the penalty, beating Krul and scoring his 13th goal of the season. United would need to weather the storm Norwich would provide knowing that this United side were not tweaked in a way that was going to punish them. It was a good finish for Ronaldo, who is outscoring players younger than him and always seems to be the main critique for the pundits who are hurt by United.
Norwich tried to get back into the game, but failed. Diogo Dalot was booked in the 77th minute of the match before Donny van de Beek replaced Fernandes in the 88th minute of the match as the final substitute for United. Rangnick’s United seemed to get the smash and grab in this match, earning them all three points. It was not a convincing victory though. With five minute of added time, United got the win. They would need to be much better in their clash with Brentford on Tuesday evening, otherwise they could suffer their first defeat under the German, which would not be good at the time United needed to fight to get back into contention.
Goals: Cristiano Ronaldo 75′ penalty
Manchester United: De Gea; Dalot, Lindelof (Bailly 74′), Maguire, Telles; Fred, McTominay; Sancho (Greenwood 67′), Fernandes (Van de Beek 88′), Rashford; Ronaldo
Substitutes Not Used: Heaton, Henderson; Jones, Shaw; Lingard; Elanga
Bookings: Pierre Lees-Melou 90+4′; Diogo Dalot 77′
Written by John Walker