My thanks go to Declan Mulcahy for this report.
Saturday 12 March 2022, 5:30pm
Manchester United (2) 3 Tottenham Hotspur (1) 2
Ronaldo 12, 38, 81
Kane, 35 (pen)
Maguire, 72 (o.g)
Manchester United (4-2-3-1): Ralf Rangnick
1 D de Gea; 20 D Dalot, 19 R Varane, 5 H Maguire (c), 27 A Telles; 31 N Matic (21 E Cavani 80), 17 Fred; 10 M Rashford (36 A Elanga 68), 6 P Pogba, 25 J Sancho; 7 Cristiano Ronaldo (2 V Lindelöf 83)
Subs not used: 26 D Henderson, 3 E Bailly, 4 P Jones, 29 A Wan-Bissaka, 8 J Mata, 14 J Lingard
Booked: Fred (35 dissent following award of penalty), Pogba (85 foul on Kane)
Tottenham Hotspur (3-4-2-1):
1 H Lloris (c); 4 C Romero, 15 E Dier, 33 B Davies (23 S Bergwijn 87); 2 M Doherty 30 R Bentancur (8 H Winks 88), 5 P-E Højbjerg, 3 S Reguilón; 21 D Kulusevski (27 Lucas Moura 78), 7 H-M Son; 10 H Kane
Subs not used: 22 P Gollini, 12 Emerson Royal, 6 D Sánchez, 14 J Rodon, 42 H White, 44 D Scarlett
Booked: Dier (30 foul on Ronaldo)
Old Trafford, Attendance: 73,458
Referee:- Jonathan Moss
Assistants:- Marc Perry, Timothy Wood
Fourth Official:- Craig Pawson
VAR: Andre Marriner
Spurs Succumb to Record-Breaking Ronaldo
This was an open entertaining match. At times it could have gone either way. The result was down to an outstanding performance by Cristiano Ronaldo - one of the great players in the history of the game.
Ronaldo has had his critics this season. There is a question about whether or not he is a luxury in a team that wants to play a pressing game. His form for United in 2022 hasn’t been great. He has only scored once in the last ten games. He didn’t play in last weekend’s Manchester derby. There is some debate as to whether he was dropped or was injured. He didn’t attend the match and paid a visit to Portugal without clearing it with the club. It appears to have done him good because he returned with a vengeance today.
Spurs made one change to the team which beat Everton last Monday with Reguilon replacing Sessegnon, who was injured.
United made five changes following a disappointing performance in the Manchester derby. Dalot and Varane replaced Wan-Bissaka and Lindelof at the back. McTominay was injured and Matic took his place. Rashford was preferred to Elanga. Ronaldo returned as Bruno Fernandes was ill.
The United players wore black armbands in memory of Frank O’ Farrell, their manager from 1971 to 1972, who had died earlier in the week.
The first ten minutes were fairly even. Then United started a move towards the Spurs box. Fred flicked the ball to Ronaldo who was just outside the D. He unleashed a thunderbolt of a shot into the top left corner giving Lloris no chance.
Soon after a Pogba shot was narrowly wide but then Spurs began to dominate possession. A nice move saw Son set up Davies on the left of the box. He put the ball in the net but it was ruled out because he was offside.
Following a corner on the right Dier directed a goal-bound header but it was cleared of the line by Dalot. The ball fell to Hojbjerg whose shot was too high. Bentancour played a nice diagonal ball to Doherty on the right but his shot was blocked. Following another Spurs attack United countered and Dier received his first booking of the season for fouling Ronaldo.
A cross from Kulusevski was handled by Telles. Referee Moss awarded a penalty. Fred was booked for disputing it. Kane dispatched the penalty low into the left corner of the net with his usual aplomb.
With this goal Kane moved up to joint fifth place with Lampard on the list of Premier League goal scorers with 177 goals. He also equalled Wayne Rooney’s record of 94 goals in Premier League away games.
Three minutes later Matic on the left played a long ball over the Spurs defenders to Sancho. He would have been offside except Reguilon was narrowly behind his fellow defenders. Sancho continued towards the box before setting Ronaldo up leaving him with an easy chance to direct the ball towards the left side into the net.
After the interval United appeared to be content to sit back and hold on to their lead. Around the hour mark Kane set up Son with a very good chance in the box. Son, who wasn’t at his best, should have scored but shot narrowly wide.
Ten minutes later following a quick throw-in Reguilon crossed from the left. Maguire attempted to clear the ball but guided it into his own net. Maguire has been having a difficult season at Old Trafford.
At that point it looked as though the game could go either way. It then became clear that Ronaldo wasn’t finished. He had a snap shot that was saved by Lloris at the right post.
Then United had a corner on the right. Telles flicked the ball on and Ronaldo rose higher than the Spurs defenders to power a header to the right corner of the net.
There were nine minutes remaining. Spurs never gave up but couldn’t create another worthwhile opportunity.
This wasn’t like the depressing defeats at Burnley and Middlesbrough. Spurs played as well as ten of the United players. They came from behind twice. Until the third goal it looked as though they could gain a point or possibly win the game.
They came up against one of the games’ greatest players whose powers are on the wane but who can still produce an occasional outstanding performance. Unfortunately he does appear to like playing against Spurs. He has scored 13 goals in 13 matches.
His hat-trick today took him to 807 goals for club and country and he has scored more goals than any other player. This was his 59th hat-trick (44 for Real Madrid, 10 for Portugal and three for Juventus and two for United). He has scored 177 goals from hat-tricks alone.
Most players who scored 177 goals would be considered pretty effective but this player has scored an additional 630 goals!
Antonio Conte said ‘"It was an amazing performance. We are talking about a player who, along with [Lionel] Messi, is the best of this era."
Spurs’ pattern since the beginning 2022 of alternating wins and losses continued. They must now try and pick themselves up for an away game against Brighton on Wednesday. Brighton have now lost five consecutive league games and were eliminated before that by Spurs in the FA Cup. However it still won’t be easy.
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