|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
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
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.