Ronaldo double earns United win over Arsenal
Sitting high in the stand with a blanket covering his legs on a chilly night at Old Trafford, recently appointed Manchester United manager Ralf Rangnick was treated to a rip-roaring introduction to life in the English Premier League.
One of the most bizarre goals seen for years. Two goals from Cristiano Ronaldo, taking him past 800 in his amazing career. And, most importantly, a wild 3-2 win over Arsenal that ushered in another new era at United.
Rangnick wasn’t officially in charge of United for the match yesterday – that honour went to Michael Carrick, who ended his brief spell as interim coach unbeaten – but he was there to watch his new team display the same shortcomings and flashes of brilliance that characterised United under the previous manager, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
And Rangnick, like everyone else in the stadium, would have been bewildered at the nature of the opening goal, scored by Arsenal midfielder Emile Smith Rowe while United goalkeeper David De Gea was lying on the ground on the goal line, clutching his foot.
De Gea had been trodden on by teammate Fred at a corner but play carried on as the ball found its way to Smith Rowe, who volleyed into an empty net from the edge of the area. Referee Martin Atkinson put his whistle towards his lips but chose not to blow it and, after a long wait while De Gea received treatment, signalled a goal — to the chagrin of United’s players who immediately surrounded the official.
United responded through Bruno Fernandes’ goal before Ronaldo scored either side of a strike by Martin Odegaard to guide United to a victory that lifted the team to seventh place, three points off the top four.
Ronaldo, whose winner came from the penalty spot and was followed by his trademark pirouette-in-the-air celebration, moved on to 801 goals for his career for club and country and played like a man eager to impress his new manager.
Rangnick, who was hired on Monday as interim manager for the rest of the season, received his work permit hours before the match and will take charge for the first time against Crystal Palace at home on Sunday.
Arsenal stayed fifth, missing a chance to jump into the top four.
EASY FOR TOTTENHAM
A routine win. A clean sheet. That’s much more like it for Antonio Conte at Tottenham.
A 2-0 victory over Brentford was the perfect response by Tottenham to its last game, a loss to Slovenian minnow Mura that prompted Conte to publicly declare his concerns about the quality in the squad he has taken over.
Son Heung-min was the architect behind the win, playing the part in the opening goal in the 13th minute – his cross ended up ricocheting into the net off Brentford midfielder Sergi Canos – and then finishing off the second at the end of a sweeping counter-attack in the 65th.
The win moved Tottenham into sixth place and meant the team is unbeaten in three league games under Conte – a draw at Everton followed by home wins over Leeds and Brentford. A game at Burnley on Sunday was postponed because of snow.