Cristiano Ronaldo extended Ralf Rangnick’s unbeaten start as Manchester United interim manager as the Portugal striker’s penalty clinched a 1-0 victory at struggling Norwich on Saturday.
Rangnick, who kept faith with the team that beat Crystal Palace 1-0 in his first match last weekend, wants to introduce a high-tempo pressing style at United.
United were inches away from an early lead when Alex Telles’ free kick deflected off the Norwich wall and cannoned off the crossbar.
While United had the star power and greater resources, there was nothing to separate two misfiring teams in the first half.
Teemu Pukki should have underlined that point when he let the ball escape his control after Lukas Rupp picked out the unmarked Norwich striker six yards from goal.
After a subdued start, Ronaldo wriggled on to Scott McTominay’s pass for a fierce drive that Tim Krul pushed away.
Harry Maguire’s diving header from Jadon Sancho’s cross forced a back-pedalling tip over from Krul.
Pukki threatened soon after the restart with a swift turn and shot that had De Gea at full stretch to save.
Marcus Rashford hadn’t scored since the end of October and the United forward was left frustrated again when his low drive rippled into the side-netting.
Rangnick responded to United’s lethargic display by sending on Mason Greenwood for Sancho.
There was a scare for United when their defender Victor Lindelof was forced off after falling to the turf holding his chest.
Lindelof seemed to have recovered as he walked off and, as ever, it was Ronaldo who was the catalyst as United finally made the breakthrough in the 75th minute.
Challenging for McTominay’s cross, Ronaldo was dragged down by Max Aarons and the Portugal striker picked himself up to drill the penalty past Krul.
Pierre Lees-Melou almost grabbed an immediate equaliser but the Norwich substitute’s header was clawed away by the inspired De Gea.
Norwich could feel aggrieved that they didn’t earn a point as Billy Gilmour’s goalbound effort was deflected wide by Eric Bailly’s last-ditch block.
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