Landmark Ronaldo hat-trick as Man Utd edge past battling Norwich at Old Trafford

Cristiano Ronaldo scored the 50th hat-trick of his illustrious career as Manchester United edged out plucky Norwich City to win 3-2 at Old Trafford.

The Portuguese captain scored twice in the first half and scored a sublime free kick after the break. Kieran Dowell and Teemu Pukki scored Norwich’s goals, but it wasn’t enough to win them anything in the game. United caretaker boss Ralf Rangnick has opted to hand over forgotten striker Jesse Lingard in his second Premier League start since January 2020.

The England star replaced Marcus Rashford in one of four changes for the side beaten 1-0 by Everton last time out. Diogo Dalot, Paul Pogba and Anthony Elanga replaced Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Fred and Nemanja Matic.

And from the bench began the winger Alejandro Garnacho, 17 years old. It may all have been a change for the hosts, but Dean Smith named a side unchanged from beating Burnley 2-0.

The Canaries raised their hopes of survival with victory over Burnley last time out, while United fell to Everton.

The Red Devils got off to a brilliant start, but it was the visitors who should have taken the lead. Pukki found himself in one-on-one with David de Gea after three minutes, but the Spaniard prevailed in the duel.

And just four minutes later, Rangnick’s men took the lead through Ronaldo after a Norwich error. Anthony Elanga stole the ball from Ben Gibson as the East Anglians tried to play off defence.

The Swede then found Ronaldo who could not miss up close. United continued to push forward with Lingard’s effort sailing just off the post on 10 minutes.

It seemed inevitable that the Old Trafford faithful would soon be cheering another goal and it came just after half an hour. And it was Ronaldo once again on the scoresheet as he rose to head powerfully from Alex Telles’s corner kick.

However, Norwich refused to budge and should have done better when they beat United at half-time. If that was any warning, Rangnick’s men didn’t notice and the Canaries halved the deficit just before half-time.

Pukki’s sublime cross was intercepted by Dowell, and the 24-year-old buried his header past De Gea to give the fighters a lifeline.

money in the brand

Norwich may be bottom of the table but they refuse to go down without a fight. And it took just seven minutes to even things out after the break.

The roles were reversed as Dowell found Pukki inside the box before the Finn international got past De Gea.

The visiting team gained confidence after the draw. Milot Rashica’s 18-yard shot forced De Gea to dive to go around the post.

With his team in trouble, Rangnick replaced Lingard with Nemanja Matic. And just a few minutes later, Telles and Paul Pogba gave way to Juan Mata and Rashford.

Number 50 for Ronaldo

The substitutions seemed to work, as United soon went ahead 3-2. And it was that man, Ronaldo, once again scoring his 50th career hat-trick at the club with a trademark free kick.

Tim Krul put both hands into his effort, but still couldn’t help it.

With the wind in their favor, United advanced in search of a fourth goal to seal the points. Bruno Fernandes tried his luck from afar but Krul lived up to the effort.

United dominated the closing minutes, but once again thanked Ronaldo for the points.

Despite being bottom of the table, Norwich more than matched their opponents for long stretches of the contest. And, had it not been for the former Real Madrid ace, he might have taken something from the game.

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