Cristiano Ronaldo saves Man Utd vs Norwich at toxic Old Trafford – 5 talking points

MAN UNITED 3-2 NORWICH: The Portuguese superstar produced a virtuoso performance on a rebellious afternoon at Old Trafford to save Ralf Rangnick’s side from another slip

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Man United fans protest against Glazers

Cristiano Ronaldo scored a stunning hat-trick to save Manchester United in the basement against Norwich in a toxic atmosphere at Old Trafford.

Ronaldo seemed to put United on their way to a comfortable three points by scoring twice in the first 32 minutes. His first goal came after just seven minutes and was a tap-in after Anthony Elanga’s pressing forced the visitors’ defense to make a mistake and the Sweden striker put it on a plate for his team-mate to open the scoring. The second was a Ronaldo header from an Alex Telles corner – a rare set piece for United this season.

However, Norwich struck back and deservedly clawed back a goal through Kieran Dowell before the break and they equalized just after the break after Teemu Pukki broke through a non-existent defence Fire home past David De Gea.

Ronaldo reacted with just 15 minutes on the clock for United when his long-range free kick defeated Tim Krul to restore United’s lead. Here are five talking points from a toxic atmosphere at Old Trafford.

Ronaldo extends record

Ronaldo celebrates his hat-trick goal for United


Jan Krueger/Getty Images)

Cristiano Ronaldo – inevitably, now that he is 37 – would never be able to repeat the pinnacle of his career once he returned to the city Manchester United this summer. But his goal return was more than respectable, with three more added to his tally this afternoon.

The Portuguese superstar scored twice in the first half – the first from Elangas pressing, followed by an impressive header from a Telles corner – to take his tally to 20 for the season. That makes it 16 seasons and more Ronaldo has scored 20 or more goals in a season dating back to 2006/07 at United. He completed his hat-trick late to save another poor team effort from punishment.

United fans are losing patience

Leading up to the clash, there was a huge protest against Man Utd ownership outside of Old Trafford


Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)

There was a major protest at the club’s Glazer ownership ahead of kick-off at Old Trafford and heated tensions spilled over into the game.

Large sections of United fans mutinied during this duel and were quick to chant against their underperforming stars. This was most notable against Paul Pogba – who was out of contract this summer – who put in another anonymous performance. When his name was set to be replaced, it was met with wry cheers to loud boos – and sections of the supporters then audibly chanted ‘f**k off Pogba’ as he walked off the pitch.

Rangnick must be ruthless

Ralf Rangnick has been struggling with dilemmas for his team sheets in recent weeks


Tom Purslow/Manchester United via Getty Images)

Paul Pogba and Jesse Lingard both started in that game but both are out of contract this summer. The same goes for Juan Mata and Nemanja Matic – second-half substitutes who know their future is no longer with the club after this season.

Interim boss Ralf Rangnick must be aware that continuing to rely on these players is not ideal and the majority of United fans would rather have players representing the team who have a future at the club. There may have been failures today but the majority of the supporters would prefer Rangnick to look to the future and build a team for his replacement in the dugout.

madness in midfield

Paul Pogba was loudly booed and jeered at by fans at Old Trafford after he was substituted


Manchester United/Manchester United via Getty Images)

Manchester United midfield started today as: Paul Pogba, Jesse Lingard, Bruno Fernandes. Two of them are out of contract this summer and will leave the club. Substitute Nemanja Matic also confirmed his departure this summer.

Of course, Fred and Scott McTominay will be at Old Trafford next season, but beyond that, and for the returning James Garner, serious investment is needed. That’s been apparent for some time, but the announcement of Matic’s departure means at least two must be signed.

In this game, the influence of the midfield was obvious. There was no deep midfield to protect a defense with Pogba at the farthest back. Lingard is more comfortable in a right-sided attacking role while Fernandes is the roaming playmaker. The inevitable consequences struck: United’s attacks were fun and numbered, but defensively they were completely exposed and unbalanced.

It’s now or never for Norwich

Teemu Pukki and Kenny McLean impressed for Norwich today but are running out of time this season


Jan Krueger/Getty Images)

Four points from the last two games gave the Canaries hope that they could miraculously avoid relegation. Still, they went into this game with just seven games left, seven points from safe play — and a tough run-in to the season.

As of today, Dean Smith’s side still have four of their last six games against teams in the top half – with their double home game newcastle and away to Aston Villa, which offers perhaps its best chance of points. There is a growing feeling that the Canaries will ideally need to pick up at least four points from these games to have any real fighting chance of avoiding relegation while games play against each other west ham and leicester possibly a little cheaper as their opponents have to focus on the European semifinals.

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