Cristiano Ronaldo scored a hat-trick as Manchester United eked out a hard-fought 3-2 win over bottom club Norwich City at Old Trafford on Saturday.
The game was off to a sprightly start as Norwich City striker Teemu Pukki called David de Gea into action early on before Manchester United came close through Anthony Elanga, only for Tim Krul to make a save. But on the 7th-minute mark, the home side broke the deadlock as Cristiano Ronaldo tucked home after Elanga had stolen possession from Ben Gibson inside the Canaries’ box.
Manchester United doubled their lead a little after the half-hour mark as that man Ronaldo rose high to connect with Alex Telles’ cross and head it past Krul. Norwich, though, kept pushing and probing for a way back and managed to halve their hosts’ advantage right on the cusp of half-time as Kieran Dowell turned home a cross from Pukki.
Just seven minutes into the second half, Norwich were back on level terms, with Dowell turning provider for Pukki this time out, with the Finnish ace making no mistake. Soon after, the visitors could have gone in front, but de Gea pulled off a fantastic stop to deny Milot Rashica. Ronaldo drew a save from Krul at the other end as both teams looked to eke ahead in the contest.
It was Manchester United who sneaked ahead in the game as Ronaldo smashed a free-kick into the bottom corner in the 72nd minute to complete his hat-trick. Bruno Fernandes came close to adding for the Red Devils ten minutes later but found Krul in his way. Norwich, though, could not muster up a late fightback and ended up losing the contest.
The win, coupled with Tottenham’s defeat to Brighton & Hove Albion and Arsenal’s loss to Southampton, means Manchester United stay alive in the top-four race. Ralf Rangnick’s side have now moved up to fifth place in the table, three points shy of Tottenham in fourth and level on points with sixth-placed Arsenal, who have a game in hand. Here are our player ratings for the Manchester United stars.
Manchester United Player Ratings
David de Gea: 7/10
The Spaniard was alert to stop Pukki early in the first period and then produced a fine stop in the second half to deny Rashica. He was again let down by a porous backline and could not have done much about the goals.
Diogo Dalot: 6/10
Not the most convincing of displays from Dalot, but he still managed to come up with some crucial blocks and interceptions and tried to offer attacking impetus down the right flank.
Harry Maguire: 4/10
While he has struggled for form of late, much better was expected from the Manchester United skipper against the league’s worst attack in terms of goals scored this term. However, he did not look convincing again as Norwich created plenty of opportunities on either side of half-time. He needs to be taken out of the starting XI for a few games.
— GoncaloDias17 (@goncalo_diass17) April 16, 2022
Victor Lindelof: 5/10
Like his defensive partner, Lindelof, too, was not solid enough on the afternoon at Old Trafford. While he did make an important intervention in the first half, the Swede was also guilty of playing Pukki onside for the second goal and generally left a lot of space between himself and Telles.
Alex Telles: 5/10
The Brazilian left-back created a chance early in the game before getting the assist for Ronaldo’s second with a good delivery from the corner flag. However, defensively, Telles was all over the place and lost Dowell for the second goal.
Bruno Fernandes: 4/10
The Manchester United playmaker was deployed in a deeper role than usual. And he failed to make much of an impact on the proceedings. There were moments of quality interspersed with quite a bit of mediocrity from Bruno Fernandes.
Paul Pogba: 4/10
? Rangnick on #mufc fans booing Pogba: "I didn't hear, but I was told after the game. I can totally understand the fans being frustrated, but I don't think they should be targeting players individually. This is not right or fair." [via @MUnitedFR] pic.twitter.com/dkCvVdmeWr
— UtdDistrict ?? (@UtdDistrict) April 16, 2022
The Frenchman started as the deepest midfielder for Manchester United, which left them exposed. He did show some positive moments during the first period. However, looked sloppy once Norwich started to take the game to the hosts and was often lazy with his off-the-ball efforts. Pogba was booed off by the fans when he subbed.
Jesse Lingard: 5.5/10
Handed a rare start as the attacking midfielder in the there-man unit, the Manchester United academy graduate looked bright in the first half, linking up well and pushing forward. Lingard had a good chance in the first half, which he could not take and faded as the game wore on.
Anthony Elanga: 7/10
A livewire on the right side, Elanga came close to opening the scoring before nicking the ball off of Gibson to set Ronaldo up for the opener. The young Swede continued to graft for the team’s cause and won the free kick, which Ronaldo scored for the winner.
Cristiano Ronaldo: 9/10
60 – Cristiano Ronaldo has scored the 60th hat-trick of his professional career for club and country (50th at club level), with today’s direct free-kick goal the 58th of his career. Phenom. pic.twitter.com/qr40Yr7jXi
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) April 16, 2022
Like he had done against Tottenham last month, Ronaldo stepped up and dragged Manchester United across the line on Saturday. The 37-year-old showed his clinical nature in front of the goal in the first period, converting his two chances with great precision. He drew a save from Krul in the second period before winning it with a free-kick. He has now scored an incredible 60 career hat-tricks!
Jadon Sancho: 5.5/10
Starting on his preferred left flank, Sancho could not make the kind of impact expected. There were a few moments when he looked dangerous going up against Sam Byram, but the Englishman could not create much of note or pose a goal threat on the afternoon.
Nemanja Matic: 6/10
The Serbian international, who confirmed on Friday that he will leave in the summer, came on for Lingard in the 63rd minute. Matic’s presence helped stabilise things in the middle of the park at a time when Norwich were on the ascendancy.
Juan Mata: 6/10
The veteran playmaker came on for Pogba with a little over 15 minutes left. Like Matic, Mata also had a positive impact on the proceedings for United with his movement and usage of the ball, helping the team take control in the final phase.
Marcus Rashford: 5/10
Replaced Telles in the 74th minute. Did little of note.
THAT WAS GOOD FOR UNITED BUT THEY CAN’T COMPETE FOR TOP FOUR. THEY ARE TOO LATE