Report: Norwich 0 United 1
Cristiano Ronaldo's penalty and superb saves from the unbeatable David De Gea made sure Manchester United beat Norwich City in the Premier League on Saturday evening.
Ralf Rangnick opted for 11 changes to the team that drew 1-1 with Young Boys in the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday, but stuck with the same side that claimed a 1-0 victory over Crystal Palace in his first match in charge last Sunday.
In an end-to-end game, Cristiano Ronaldo's penalty goal in the 75th-minute proved to be the difference at Carrow Road. The Portuguese superstar was brought down in the box and he duly smashed the spot-kick home to secure three important points.
However, a win would not have been possible without yet more outstanding saves from David De Gea, particularly in the game's final few minutes as the Canaries searched for an equaliser. Our no.1 was in superb form once again and will be delighted to have recorded a second successive clean sheet.
The opening minutes at Carrow Road were dominated by high-paced football from both sides without either side producing any real clear-cut chances. The hosts won a corner after eight minutes as Scott McTominay blocked a cross from the right from Canaries star man Teemu Pukki; the Reds dealt well with the set-piece.
Shortly after, Diogo Dalot crossed the ball to the left side of the box and after a few blocks the ball landed at the feet of McTominay, but a Norwich defender got in the way of our no.39’s strike.
The high press from Rangnick’s Reds gained us a free-kick on 13 minutes and Alex Telles was inches away from putting the Reds in front. The Brazilian whipped the set-piece towards the top corner and it bounced off the bar and over after a Norwich deflection.
After a running duel between Ronaldo and Norwich captain Grant Hanley, the latter went down in pain and needed medical treatment and in the 20th minute he was replaced Jacob Sorensen.
In the 25th minute, Bruno Fernandes played a clever through-ball into the space ahead of Marcus Rashford. Our no.10 was clearly held up by the opposing defender but the referee waved play on despite a valid claim for a free-kick.
The hosts still offered a threat at the other end as Przemyslaw Placheta attacked down the right with a flick from Pukki cleared by United.
Back at the other end, Dalot took aim from just inside the box on the half-hour mark, but his effort was straight at Tim Krul. United constantly won the ball in good positions and burst forward on the attack as quickly as possible, but unfortunately the big chances from open play were yet to come.
That was until the 37th-minute, as Ronaldo twisted and turned inside the Norwich box, before Krul punched his left-footed effort away from danger.
Norwich's next move ended in a header from Rupp but the German couldn't connect properly following a promising Canaries attack. At the other end of the pitch, Harry Maguire did brilliantly wear to steer a looping header on target in first-half stoppage time but Krul, once again, got fingertips to the effort, meaning it was goalless at the break.
Where United were the dominant side in the first half, it was Dean Smith’s men producing the best chances in the opening minutes of the second. The aforementioned Placheta tested De Gea, but his attempt two minutes into the half hit our no.1 and went away from danger.
In the 54th minute, Rashford bursted towards goal but was denied by a strong tackle from Ozan Kabak before being waved offside.
Back at the other end, De Gea produced a world-class stop to deny Pukki from the edge of the box with a magnificent one-handed diving save to tip the ball over. United survived a run of Norwich corners, before Rashford fired just wide of the right-hand post.
The Canaries went straight on the attack again but a powerful shot was brilliantly blocked by McTominay, who slid in with no fear to deny the hosts.
With United still striving for the opener, Rangnick replaced Jadon Sancho with Mason Greenwood in the 67th minute. The Reds were then forced into another substitution shortly after as Victor Lindelof could not continue following some discomfort around the abdomen.
However, before Eric Bailly could be introduced, United were awarded a penalty. Ronaldo was brought down in the box by Max Aarons and referee Darren England had no qualms in pointing to the penalty spot. Our no.7, as he did against Arsenal, smashed the ball home to send United ahead. The trademark celebration followed as the away end went crazy.
Moments after Ronaldo’s opener, De Gea produced another world-class stop to prevent Kabak’s header going in.
The Canaries tried shot after shot but the Reds stood firm with Dalot and substitute Bailly getting in the way of a big double chance for the hosts on 82 minutes.
Four minutes from full-time, United had a chance to wrap up the victory when Rashford dribbled down the left and found Ronaldo in the box but unfortunately the ball was just behind our no.7 and he couldn't keep the ball down as he dug out a shot.
De Gea once again denied Norwich in injury-time with another superb reaction save to clear a header off the line. Nothing was getting past our no.1 at Carrow Road as United claimed all three points.
Norwich: Krul; Aarons, Hanley (c) (Sorensen 20), Kabak, Giannoulis; Rupp (Lees-Melou, 76); Gilmour, McLean; Placheta (Cantwell 70), Pukki, Sargent.
Subs not used: Byram, Dowell, Mumba, Gunn, Idah, Tomkinson.
United: De Gea; Dalot, Lindelof (Bailly 74), Maguire (c), Telles; Fred, McTominay; Sancho (Greenwood 67), Fernandes (van de Beek 88); Rashford, Ronaldo.
Subs not used: Henderson, Heaton, Jones, Shaw, Lingard, Elanga.Goal: Ronaldo 75 (pen)