Manchester United 3-2 Tottenham (Ronaldo ’12, 38, ’81 Kane P ’35, Maguire OG ’72)
Cristiano Ronaldoto stop the ball dead 30 yards from goal, will have had fleeting visions of Porto 2009. Twenty-six minutes later, the most neurotic of record collectors must have seen Josef Bican in his main eye as he knocked past Hugo Lloris to goal No. 806 – and thus became he top scorer in men’s football history.
No 807 was yet to come and he rose above Matt Doherty for just his second United hat-trick ever, his last act of the night before leaving the pitch to standing ovations. It had won the United game and for once he did not feel as if his individual brilliance was being undermined by fighting a losing match.
For the opening, there will be questions from Antonio Conte as to why Ronaldo ever got the kind of space where Eric Dier dropped off and both Rodrigo Bentancur and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg around him.
Also Lloris had all the time to see the pitch into the top corner, but left it too late as it was possibly the best ever to do so (Tom Brady, by the way, followed from the stands) launched first place past Bican in Fifa’s record books .
At least Tottenham were not disappointed with the opening, Dejan Kulusevski twists past Jadon Sancho to make a cross that hit Alex Telles’ outstretched hand.
The penalty was smashed to the bottom left by Harry Kane, his 94th Premier League goal away from home brought him on par with Wayne Rooney for his own record.
United were furious after (correctly) refusing a similar call for a spot kick at the other end when Ronaldo’s attack had hit Diers arm. No handball, said Jon Moss.
Still, the position was right for just three minutes before Ronaldo struck again. Nemanja Matic, who had truly struggled to keep pace, played a one-off ball over the top of Spurs’ defense, Jadon Sancho narrowly beating Sergio Reguilon’s offside trap to play a perfectly weighted pass to Ronaldo in midfield.
United’s joy is still uncertain, nonetheless – it’s just always a Harry Maguire roar away from being overthrown. Kane had a good opportunity to attack on the wing, but remembered their instructions to go for middle attacks.
There was no danger that the Argentine, who had clearly strayed offside, actually scored, and there was no need for Maguire’s unfortunate wave into his own net.
Not that it had not come; United had started the evening on the back foot and were guilty of inviting Spurs on from the start of the second half.
The midfield was disrupted by the absence of Bruno Fernandez and Scott McTominay, but United must still have the basics in order. Still, it fell to Ronaldo to save Rangnick with three very different goals.
To think, there were Spurs fans discussing this week whether they would do better if Ronaldo did play after his absence for the Manchester derby.
Whatever you do about him impact on Ralf Rangnick’s systemand whether United might be better served by a less static and more suitable modern center-forward, Sky Sports’ Kelly Cates said it best.
“There is a lot of talk about what Ronaldo is not doing for Manchester United, but let’s talk about what he is doing.”
- De Gea – 6
- Dalot – 6
- Varane – 6.5
- Maguire – 5
- Telles – 5
- Matic – 5.5
- Fred – 7
- Pogba – 7
- Sancho – 7.5
- Rashford – 5
- Ronaldo – 9.5
- Elanga – 6
- Lindelöf – 6
- Lloris – 5.5
- Doherty – 6
- Romero – 6
- Animal – 5.5
- Davis – 5.5
- Reguilon – 6
- Højbjerg – 6.5
- Bentancur – 6
- Kulusevski – 7
- Sun – 7
- Kane – 7.5
- Lucas – 6
- Bergwijn – N / A
- Blink – N / A