MANCHESTER, England (AP) — Cristiano Ronaldo reached 800 career goals with a double that secured Manchester United a 3-2 victory against Arsenal in the Premier League on Thursday, as interim manager Ralf Rangnick saw his new team triumph from the stands.
A lot has changed at Old Trafford since United’s last home game 26 days ago, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer losing his job after that loss to Manchester City was compounded by a shocking defeat at Watford.
Michael Carrick, Solskjaer’s assistant, has steadied the team during an unbeaten three-match caretaker stint that ended with an entertaining win featuring a bizarre opening goal and another demonstration of Ronaldo’s enduring excellence on his return to the side.
He scored the winner from the penalty spot after his first goal allowed him to reach 800 for his career for club and country
Rangnick’s first game in charge will be against Crystal Palace this Sunday. The German has signed a deal until the end of the season and Thursday’s game will have given him food for thought, having seen the team’s quality and ongoing defensive concerns from the directors’ box.
Finding a way to keep clean sheets will be key if this season is to be a success for United, although there was little that could be done to prevent Emile Smith Rowe’s bizarre opener.
David De Gea was rolling around in apparent pain on the goalline when Smith Rowe struck a volley from the edge of the area, with the VAR instructing referee Martin Atkinson to award the goal as it was the Spaniard’s teammate, Fred, who hurt the goalkeeper by treading on his foot at a corner.
Bruno Fernandes, making his 100th United appearance, equalized in the 44th, before Ronaldo turned home Marcus Rashford’s cross to bring up his landmark early in the second half.
Arsenal took just two minutes to bring the match back level as Martin Odegaard found the net with a low finish, good work he undid 16 minutes later with a rash challenge on Fred inside the box.
Atkinson awarded the penalty after the VAR advised him to watch the pitchside monitor, with Ronaldo keeping his cool in front of the Stretford End to lash home what proved to be the winner.
The night started with a giant “20LEGEND” banner being unfurled in that stand as the United faithful chanted club great Solskjaer’s name following his exit last month.
It ended with United announcing Carrick would be stepping down as first-team coach and leaving the club where he also starred as a midfielder from 2006-18.