Report: United 3 Tottenham 2
Cristiano Ronaldo’s superb hat-trick sealed Manchester United's 3-2 victory against Tottenham in a Premier League thriller at Old Trafford.
The Reds asserted authority over Spurs in the bid for a top-four position with two goals in the first half from CR7.
Spurs hit back twice with a Harry Kane equaliser in the first 45 minutes and then a Harry Maguire own goal levelled the scoring up in the second half.
But Ronaldo’s one-man superstar goal-show wasn’t finished and he powered in a headed winner nine minutes from time.
FIRST HALF - RONALD DOUBLE PUTS REDS IN POLE POSITION
It was chess-match stuff to open the match with both teams going forwards, diagonally and backwards, looking for the ball that would open up the opposition. But we didn’t have to wait too long for the killer move.
Ronaldo had had an early snapshot smash against the arm of Eric Dier but all appeals for a penalty were waved away, to the astonishment of the striker.
The disappointment was brief before Ronaldo was centre of the action again in the 12th minute This time, an exquisite flick around the corner from Fred put our no.7 in space around 30 yards from goal. Ronaldo unleashed a trademark clean hit that Hugo Lloris in the Tottenham goal couldn’t touch.
Paul Pogba sold Rodrigo Bentancur a crowd-pleasing dummy as he turned him in the 16th minute, but his shot skidded wide as United stepped on the gas. Spurs responded and had a goal chalked off when Ben Davies slipped behind the Reds' defence but, after he beat David De Gea, the flag was rightly raised by the assistant referee.
The visitors came close again after 26 minutes as a Son Heung-min corner found its way to Dier at the far post but his header was cleared off the line by the vigilant Diogo Dalot. It was certainly a match that was living up to its vital top-four battle billing.
Controversially, Spurs levelled in the 35th minute. Having had our own appeal for a penalty turned down after nine minutes, referee Jonathan Moss pointed to the spot for what looked like a very similar offence when Dejan Kulusevski’s cross smashed against Alex Telles’s arm, after United failed to properly clear a Dier free-kick that smashed against the wall.
Despite the protests, Kane stepped up to crash his penalty home in front of the Stretford End to make it 1-1.
Three minutes later, this value-for-money watch was heading for more heated debate when Jadon Sancho crossed for Ronaldo to sidefoot home. Spurs were furious in claiming that Sancho was offside but after a VAR check Ronaldo’s second was rubber-stamped, with Sergio Reguilon behind Sancho, and United were 2-1 up.
Sancho looked to extend our lead with a shot gobbled up by Lloris just before half-time but Old Trafford was absolutely bouncing after a fast and furious first half with United ahead at the interval.
SECOND HALF - RONALDO TREBLE WINS IT
Spurs came out for the second half intent of getting back into the match and taking advantage of a quiet opening by the Reds. The visitors, though, could only really muster a right-foot snapshot from Son that zipped past De Gea’s post just after the hour, following an incisive move.
United finally had an answer when Ronaldo hit a stinger on the run that was saved by Lloris after 66 minutes.
Two minutes later, Anthony Elanga came on for Marcus Rashford. Ralf Rangnick was waiting to send on Victor Lindelof as Spurs turned their pressure into an equaliser in the 72nd minute. The Londoners switched from right to left to set up Reguilon for a cross that the unfortunate Maguire turned into his own net as he attempted to block the dangerous cross into the six-yard area.
Ronaldo answered the setback with another shot at pace but, once more, Lloris was equal to the attempt in the 76th minute and turned it aside for a corner.
As both sides went for the crucial winner, there were more positive substitutions from both dugouts. Spurs boss Antonio Conte brought on Lucas Moura for Kulusevski and Rangnick answered with Edinson Cavani for Matic.
It promised to be a pulsating finale and it didn’t disappoint. Before Cavani could make an impact, it was that man Ronaldo again who came up with the goods.
An 81st-minute corner from Alex Telles was met with an aerial assault by Ronaldo who rose to head home for his hat-trick. He was then taken off to be replaced by Lindelof and the hitman hero left his stage to a noisy standing ovation.
It was a bit of a late nail-biter as Spurs looked to come back for a third time but United saw the game out for a crucial win.
United: De Gea; Dalot, Varane, Maguire (c), Telles; Matic, Fred, Pogba; Rashford (Elanga 68), Ronaldo (Lindelof 85), Sancho.
Subs not used: Henderson, Bailly, Jones, Wan-Bissaka, Lingard, Mata.
Goals: Ronaldo 12,38,81.
Bookings: Fred, Pogba.
Spurs: Lloris, Doherty, Romero, Dier, Davies (Bergwijn 85), Reguilon, Hojbjerg, Bentancur (Winks 85), Kulusevski (Moura 75), Son, Kane.
Subs not used: Gollini, Sanchez, Emerson Royal, Rodon, White, Scarlett.
Goals: Kane 35 (pen), Maguire (own goal) 72.