Manchester United was saved in the Premier League by a Cristiano Ronaldo hat-trick in a 3-2 win over Norwich at Old Trafford — in a game marked by sloppy defending from both teams.
Ronaldo had put United ahead 2-0 in the first half, only for Kieran Dowell and Teemu Pukki to equalize for Norwich before the veteran attacker popped up with a late winner.
Outside the game, hundreds, if not thousands, of fans demonstrated against the Glazer family. There were several apparent gaps at the start, but most were progressively filled until a larger influx after the 17th minute – symbolizing Glazer’s ownership of the team for 17 years. The majority of the time, it was still full.
Ralf Rangnick’s side was under pressure following a string of poor results, and Norwich threatened to add to it – they could have taken the lead when Pukki ran through on goal. David de Gea beat him to it with a poor effort.
The Canaries’ own actions first relieved the pressure. United’s first goal came as a gift, with Ben Gibson losing control in his own penalty area to Anthony Elanga, who promptly passed it to Ronaldo for a simple tap-in and a deserved lead.
Norwich were poor after going behind and gave the ball away cheaply despite the hosts’ obvious press. United, meanwhile, looked assured, and Grant Hanley needed all of his wits to block a close-range Jadon Sancho effort on the half-hour mark, while Jesse Lingard’s first-timer struck Tim Krul’s midriff and rebounded away for a corner.
Ronaldo scored his second goal from the resulting set-piece. The Portuguese rose to meet Alex Telles’ in-swinging delivery, and Norwich failed to do anything to prevent him.
However, after Norwich had given United two easy goals, the favor was quickly returned either side of half-time. As a wave of yellow shirts charged up towards the back four, Dowell nodded in at the far post, the home side’s absence of defensive-minded midfielders was evident.
The Norwich equalizer, which came from the same guy, had more dubious defending, with Telles out of position and Victor Lindelof indicating but doing nothing about it. Pukki slipped in between them and finished close to De Gea.
Norwich attempted to grab the lead almost immediately, with only De Gea’s right hand saving a powerful low effort from Milot Rashica — the same player was subsequently prevented by a last-ditch Diogo Dalot block. The Canaries looked incredibly dangerous as a result of United’s lack of defensive midfield presence and a dip in their own tempo.
However, Ronaldo provided a lifeline when he stood over a free-kick well beyond the penalty area. His strike wasn’t particularly good, but it got past a shoddy defensive wall and was palmed in by a bewildered Krul onto the inside of the post.