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Manchester United 3-2 Norwich City: Sloppy win keeps top four hopes alive

Still in it…

Manchester United v Norwich City - Premier League Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images

Manchester United somehow emerged 3-2 victors against the might and feared Norwich City on Saturday afternoon thanks to a hat trick from Cristiano Ronaldo. It’s good to know he still has that in his locker given that he has remained undroppable for Rangnick despite having an awful 2022. United even play like they still have him when he’s absent, so hopefully he can score a few more as they push for top 4.

It was a lively start to the match, with both teams getting a event chance in the first 5 minutes. United’s midfield setup of Lingard, Pogba, and Bruno screamed “open game” and the opening stages backed that. They were rewarded for their pressing soon after when Elanga won the ball back in a dangerous area and laid it across to Ronaldo for the easy tap in.

United’s number 7 has struggled for most of 2022, but was able to find plenty of chances against the likely Championship bound Canaries, and found the net for a second time off of a corner in the 32nd minute. He charged toward the near post end of the box and met the cross powerfully to send it past Krul and give his side a 2-0 lead. It was a lead however that wouldn’t stay safe for long.

While United dominated much of the first half there were still signs that Norwich would be able to find a way through. Lindelof and Maguire did well at times to cover for poor full back play, but couldn’t do it all as Kieran Dowell got one back on the verge of halftime. Too easy to get through Dalot on the right, and Telles nowhere to be found at the back post as Dowell tapped it in unmarked.

Telles’ form continued into the second half, where he allowed Teemu Pukki to sprint past him and then continue towards goal to equalize past De Gea. It was a shocking display from the left back, and deservedly got him yanked from the game in favor of adding an attacker. They even seemed to play better without him and no apparent defensive replacement, and the return to attacking play allowed United to get back in front and Ronaldo to complete his hat trick.

The 3rd goal for number 7 came on a free kick (shocking I know), one which you could hardly see fly past Krul given the speed and the sunlight. It gave United the advantage again, one they would hold onto despite a couple more scary moments, and more importantly 3 points on a day when Tottenham and Arsenal both lost. It’s not a game worth unpacking too much, but could prove vital as United look to somehow claw back into the top 4 and qualify for UEFA Champions League football next season.