December 03, (THEWILL) – Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice, including the 800th goal of his career, as Manchester United defeated Arsenal 3-2 at Old Trafford under watchful eyes of new temporary manager Ralf Rangnick to see off a brief but successful tenure for Michael Carrick.
In the 13th minute, Emile Smith Rowe volleyed into an open goal with David de Gea lying prone in the United six-yard box, giving the Gunners their reward for a vibrant opening but a sore taking point on sportsmanship.
After a lengthy delay, referee Martin Atkinson had no choice but to award the goal because there was no obvious infringement involving a visiting player. The Spanish goalkeeper received treatment for a minor knock after colliding with his own teammate, Fred.
United were slow off their paces at the start of the half, but improved as the half progressed, and Bruno Fernandes marked his 100th appearance for the club with a smart first-time finish after a slick play down the left flank.
On 52 minutes, Ronaldo scored a game-changing goal with a devastating first-time strike, giving the hosts the lead for the first time for his milestone. The lead, however, was short-lived as Martin Odegaard stroked a similar attempt into the far corner to bring Mikel Arteta’s side level.
United, on the other hand, would not be denied, and Ronaldo stepped up to convert a penalty 20 minutes from time to ensure caretaker manager Michael Carrick’s unbeaten record remained intact.
As a result of the outcome, United moved up to seventh place, while Arsenal remained in fifth place and missed out on a chance to break into the top four.
Ralf Rangnick, the Red Devils’ interim German manager, may have wondered what he had gotten himself into when United started slowly, but he got a genuine taste of the Premier League’s high-octane intensity in the second half as he watched from the stands after having his work permit confirmed.
There is clearly much work ahead of him in the weeks and months ahead, but despite their recent struggles, United are only three points off the top four, and there is a much more positive vibe around the club now. Carrick, who stepped down after the win, deserves some credit for that after securing solid results in his three matches in charge of team affairs.
But the talk, as is often the case, will be mostly about Ronaldo. Even when Smith-strange Rowe’s goal almost became the big talking point, Ronaldo decided he wanted the headlines and helped himself to a brace and another milestone.
The fact that he scored a historic goal and rebounded in style after being benched against Chelsea tells a lot about his mentality and ability to deliver when it matters most, putting to rest any rumours that he could not keep up with Rangnick’s standards.
On Sunday, United will host Crystal Palace in Rangnick’s first true debut, while Arsenal will travel to Everton on Monday night.