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Cristiano Ronaldo helps Manchester United sink Arsenal after controversial Emile Smith Rowe goal at Old Trafford


Manchester: Sitting high in the stand with a blanket covering his legs on a chilly night at Old Trafford, recently appointed Manchester United manager Ralf Rangnick was treated to a rip-roaring introduction to life in the Premier League.

One of the most bizarre goals seen for years. Two goals from Cristiano Ronaldo, taking him past 800 in his amazing career. And, most importantly, a wild 3-2 win over Arsenal that ushered in another new era at United.

Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates what proved the winner and his second goal against Arsenal at Old Trafford.

Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates what proved the winner and his second goal against Arsenal at Old Trafford.Credit:Getty

Rangnick wasn’t officially in charge of United for the match on Thursday — that honour went to Michael Carrick, who ended his brief spell as interim coach unbeaten — but he was there to watch his new team display the same shortcomings and flashes of brilliance that characterised United under the previous manager, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

And Rangnick, like every else in the stadium, would have been bewildered at the nature of the opening goal, scored by Arsenal midfielder Emile Smith Rowe while United goalkeeper David De Gea was lying on the ground on the goal line, clutching his foot.

De Gea had been trodden on by teammate Fred at a corner but play carried on as the ball found it way to Smith Rowe, who volleyed into an empty net from the edge of the area. Referee Martin Atkinson put his whistle toward his lips but chose not to blow it and, after a long wait while De Gea received treatment, signalled a goal — to the chagrin of United’s players who immediately surrounded the official.

United responded through Bruno Fernandes’ goal before Ronaldo scored either side of a strike by Martin Odegaard to guide United to a victory that lifted the team to seventh place, three points off the top four.

Manchester United’s Alex Telles remonstrates with referee Martin Atkinson after he awarded the controversial goal to Emile Smith Rowe.

Manchester United’s Alex Telles remonstrates with referee Martin Atkinson after he awarded the controversial goal to Emile Smith Rowe.Credit:AP

Ronaldo, whose winner came from the penalty spot and was followed by his trademark pirouette-in-the-air celebration, moved onto 801 goals for his career for club and country and played like a man eager to impress his new manager.

Rangnick, who was hired Monday as interim manager for the rest of the season, received his work permit hours before the match and will take charge for the first time against Crystal Palace at home on Sunday.



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