|Cristiano Ronaldo wheels away in celebration after firing United ahead on Thursday against Arsenal. It ended 3-2 at Old Trafford. (Photo credit: Premierleague.com)|
If there was any doubt about how useful Cristiano Ronaldo can be for the new interim manager at Manchester United Ralf Rangnick, all was laid to rest at Old Trafford on Thursday night.
Manchester United beat Arsenal 3-2 in a pulsating encounter to round off the game week 14 of the premier league under the light at Old Trafford in what was Michael Carrick’s final game in charge as interim manager following the sack of Ole Gunnar Solksjaer.
The Gunners went out blazing as they have always done with United trying to stay together to contain barrage of attacks on their defense, David De Gea however didn’t have a serious save to make until United themselves have tested Aaron Ramsdale at least twice.
Mikel Arteta left Bukayo Saka out of the starting eleven with the young man struggling with a tight hip while Mohammed Elneny was preferred to Albert Sambi Lokonga in the middle of the park as Arsenal tried to shore things up.
Carrick sent out a team that was expected to attack, Ronaldo was restored to the starting eleven while Harry Maguire returned from ban to replace Eric Bailley; it was the visitors that took the lead in the 13th minute in a very bizarre circumstance.
Arsenal’s corner from the right was swung in by Martin Odegaard, De Gea was seen on the floor but the referee didn’t blow until Emile Smith-Rowe had fired in from outside the box, but replays show it was Fred, a Manchester United player that stepped on De Gea and the goal stood.
Arsenal looked the likelier to score despite United throwing out the handbrake, Ramsdale had a few to save but De Gea was busy at the other end as well.
United however drew level just before the halftime break when a weak Fred pass in the Arsenal area found Bruno Fernandes who side footed home much to the dismay of Arteta who couldn’t understand how Fernandes had such time.
Arsenal were on the front foot from the start of the second half but De Gea saved brilliantly from Gabriel off another Arsenal corner. United turned it around and grabbed their second four minutes later when Marcus Rashford found Ronaldo in the area for the Portuguese’s 800th career goal.
It didn’t take long before Arsenal leveled, Martin Odegaard was on the end of a pass from Gabriel Martinelli and his tame effort found the bottom corner for 2-2.
The hero soon became the villain as Odegaard brought down Fred in the Arsenal area with the VAR calling back the incident for referee Atkinson who obliged and pointed to the spot for Cristiano Ronaldo to start his new century of goals.
Arsenal huffed and puffed till the final whistle was blown, it was an important win for United who now sit within two points of Arsenal in fifth and just three off the top four. Arsenal suffer yet another defeat and their top four hopes will have to wait for yet another round.