Cristiano Ronaldo clearly doesn’t want to be benched again this season. After being left out of the starting XI in the last game, Manchester United’s star forward started against Arsenal and scored two goals, surpassing the 800-goal mark for his career and leading Man United to an all-important 3-2 win over Arsenal.
It was a critical victory because it lifted Man United to seventh place in the Premier League standings (21 points), just two points behind Arsenal (5th place, 23 points) and three points out of the all-important fourth-place spot that is rewarded with a berth in the Champions League at season’s end.
United actually fell behind in the match to a bizarre goal scored by Emile Smith Rowe who shot on goal while Man United goalkeeper David De Gea was down injured on the goal line. The tally was initially disallowed, but the VAR intervened and saw that it was a teammate who injured De Gea.
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It felt like deja-vu for the Red Devils, who went down at home again, but they scored a timely equalizer just before halftime when Bruno Fernandes pounced on a cross to make it 1-1.
The teams started the second half strong and exchanged goals inside the first 10 minutes with Ronaldo scoring first — the 800th of his career for both club and country — and Martin Odegaard replying for Arsenal on nearly identical goals off crosses.
The game-winner came on a 70th-minute penalty kick, which Ronaldo stepped up to convert for goal No. 801. It was initially not awarded by the officials, but the VAR stepped in here, too, to flag the infraction by Odegaard, who fouled Fred in the Arsenal box with a late slide tackle. Arsenal wish the VAR had done the same on a pull-down in the box by United defender Harry Maguire on Takehiro Tomiyasu before the halftime whistle.
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Manchester United will kick off a new era under interim manager Ralf Rangnick, who watched from the stands and will take over training for the first time on Friday, December 3.
Caretaker Michael Carrick served as manager on the sidelines against Arsenal, his third and final match in charge after the dismissal of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Carrick went undefeated with two wins and a draw against Chelsea before announcing he would leave the club after the victory over Arsenal. He hands off a team to Rangnick that is back in positive spirits after a difficult stretch before Solskjaer’s departure.
ARS — Emile Smith Rowe — 17th min.
MANU — Bruno Fernandes (Fred) — 44th min.
MANU — Cristiano Ronaldo (Marcus Rashford) — 52nd min.
ARS — Martin Odegaard (Gabriel Martinelli) — 55th min.
MANU — Cristiano Ronaldo (penalty kick)— 70th min.
(All times Eastern)
90th min.: SUB – Now it’s Bruno Fernandes going off. Donny van de Beek comes on.
89th min.: SUB – Ronaldo comes out and Anthony Martial replaces him.
88th min.: It’s a Man United breakaway off an Arsenal corner and Jadon Sancho serves Fernandes in the center of the box, but it’s deflected.
79th min.: SUBS – Jesse Lingard comes on for Marcus Rashford, while Eddie Nketiah and Alexandre Lacazette come on for Arsenal (for Aubameyang and Odegaard).
78th min.: What a chance for Aubameyang! He redirects a cross toward goal, but De Gea does well to stop it. However, he would have been ruled offside as the flag comes up. This match is still wide open.
70th min.: And Ronaldo buries the penalty kick for a 3-2 United lead.
Ronaldo buries the penalty kick and the score is now 3-2 Manchester United!
📺: @peacockTV #MUNARS pic.twitter.com/s3ROHzkEVW
68th min.: Man United wants a penalty for a tackle by Martin Odegaard on Fred in the box. The referee doesn’t give it initially but he’s having a look at it at the monitor. And a penalty is given!
65th min.: Blast by Aubameyang parried away by De Gea. Fantastic ball by Ben White over the top and Aubameyang does well to get a volley on goal. Fine stop by De Gea.
55th min.: Goal Arsenal! Martin Odegaard responds right away, putting away a Martinelli cross. Just like Ronaldo did on the other end moments ago.
Arsenal respond almost immediately! It’s Odegaard with the goal! We are level again at Old Trafford.
📺: @peacockTV #MUNARS pic.twitter.com/S3sMNjFVGn
52nd min.: Goal Ronaldo! A near identical goal to the first! Cutback by Marcus Rashford this time and Ronaldo was there to put it home. He had too much space, and it’s 800 career goals for club and country in his career.
Who else but Ronaldo?
Manchester United leads 2-1. #MUNARS pic.twitter.com/E9EEZiisUY
48th min.: And now a great save by Arsenal’s Ramsdale on the other end. Ronaldo puts a defender on his rear end in the box and blasts a shot on goal, but Ramsdale blocks.
47th min.: What a save by De Gea to start the half after the ball deflected off the back of Arsenal’s Gabriel.
46th min.: The second half is underway. No subs.
47th min.: Penalty Arsenal? Replays seem to show Takehiro Tomiyasu pulled down in the box by Harry Maguire. Tomiyasu is beside himself, but no penalty given.
No VAR review 🤣🤣 pic.twitter.com/8FHvdi0mn7
Don’t know how Maguire got away with this pic.twitter.com/JzVKzjeYcz
Maguire clearly pulls Tomiyasu back but no penalty given. The VAR official was probably scared to give Arsenal a second decision in their favor.
46th min.: CAUTION – Scott McTominay with the late, reckless foul on Thomas Partey and Martin Atkinson has no choice.
44th min.: Bruno Fernandes equalizes! Jadon Sancho feeds Fred in the box and he cuts it back to Fernandes who touches it home. Well taken. 1-1.
Bruno Fernandes slots it home to level the game just before the half.
📺: @peacockTV #MUNARS pic.twitter.com/6cUq1dnZVx
35th min.: Man United fans want a penalty kick, but Ben White put in a great tackle in the Arsenal box.
32nd min.: There’s a second ball change happening in this first half. Apparently not enough pressure in the ball and another ball is replaced.
Several Manchester United players complained the ball was flat during the first-half https://t.co/VpLki9Hyks
19th min.: Man United’s response is a solo effort and shot by Ronaldo. But it’s easy for Arsenal goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale.
#mufc have conceded nine consecutive Premier League goals at Old Trafford without scoring themselves in between, their longest home league run of goals conceded without reply since November 1961 [ @OptaJoe ]
14th min.: Goal? Emile Smith Rowe took the shot, but David De Gea was writhing on the ground with his back turned to play. The referee assumed that De Gea was fouled, but replays showed it was his teammate Fred who nicked De Gea’s ankle. The goal was wide open for Smith Rowe to score. And after the VAR looks at it, the goal is given!
Arsenal take an early 1-0 lead thanks to Smith Rowe. #MUNARS pic.twitter.com/Q3hspYsUHP
Weird circumstances, but they all count. 😉 #afc pic.twitter.com/OxQlue7ifp
13th min.: Arsenal corner kick after a deflected shot and it finishes in the goal, but referee Martin Atkinson doesn’t allow it.
11th min.: Another shot on goal for the home team. Fred wins the ball in midfield and Cristiano Ronaldo goes straight to goal. It wasn’t a convincing shot.
8th min.: Diogo Dalot with the first shot on goal for Man United. It came from distance, but it’s the most decisive move by United. It’s been tentative until that shot.
2nd min.: Three straight corner kicks to start the match for Arsenal.
1st min.: We’re off. And Arsenal with a shot in the box after just 35 seconds. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s shot is blocked by Harry Maguire for a corner. Not a great start for United.
3:14 p.m.: Fans love Ole:
Tribute to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer ahead of kick off. Most of the stadium singing “Ole, Ole, Ole.” pic.twitter.com/AcIJtElkYL
3:13 p.m.: Teams are on the field. Rangnick is in the stands. All set to go at Old Trafford:
Let’s go. #COYG #AFC pic.twitter.com/AjrkE5xG4b
3:10 p.m.: This is extreme. But it tells you how fans are feeling about this game.
Biggest game of the season today. Man Utd vs Arsenal 2021.
If Arsenal win we come top 4, complete our rebuild and reestablish ourselves as a Champions League global club.
If Arsenal lose, we don’t see CL football for another 5 years.
Come back to this tweet in the future.
2:57 p.m.: A strong message from the Man United fans:
2:45 p.m.: He’ll be in his parka on the sideline in a bit:
Freezing cold up here, but Tierney obviously only player from either side warming up in shorts and t-shirts with socks rolled down.
📍 Old Trafford. It’s cold. pic.twitter.com/QCXH1BaYGd
2:41 p.m.: Can you imagine the uproar if Ronaldo weren’t starting?
Ronaldo starts #MUNARS #mufc #afc pic.twitter.com/q8gEXm3w0L
2:10 p.m.: You can be sure the camera will be locked on Rangnick all game:
🚨 Ralf Rangnick is in the building 🚨
Man Utd’s new interim boss will watch their match against Arsenal from the stands 🏟 #PLonPrime #MUNARS pic.twitter.com/OCqScYievC
Captain Harry Maguire is available after serving a one-game suspension, though fellow center back Raphael Varane is not yet ready to return. Fellow defensive starter, left back Luke Shaw , is still a doubt after the head injury sustained three matches ago.
Right back Aaron Wan-Bissaka is the surprise exclusion from the matchday squad and Nemanja Matic is also out. Both started on Sunday against Chelsea. Paul Pogba is a long-term injury absence.
Manchester United starting lineup (4-3-3, left to right): 1-David de Gea-GK — 27-Alex Telles, 5-Harry Maguire, 2-Victor Lindelof, 20-Diogo Dalot — 17-Fred, 39-Scott McTominay, 18-Bruno Fernandes — 10-Marcus Rashford, 7-Cristiano Ronaldo, 25-Jadon Sancho
Manchester United subs (9): 26-Dean Henderson-GK, 4-Phil Jones, 3-Eric Bailly, 14-Jesse Lingard, 8-Juan Mata, 34-Donny van de Beek, 11-Mason Greenwood, 9-Anthony Martial, 16-Amad Diallo
The only real injury concern for the Gunners was right winger Bukayo Saka , who was forced to come out of last weekend’s win over Newcastle. He will start on the bench with Gabriel Martinelli taking his place in the XI. Mohamed El Neny also gets a turn in central midfield over Albert Sambi Lokonga . Granit Xhaka (knee) and Sead Kolasinac (ankle) are the long-term injury absences. Backup ‘keeper Bernd Leno is out with a tight groin, according to the club.
Arsenal starting lineup (4-2-3-1, left to right): 32-Aaron Ramsdale-GK — 20-Nuno Tavares, 6-Gabriel, 4-Ben White, 18-Takehiro Tomiyasu — 5-Thomas Partey, 25-Mohamed Elneny — 10-Emile Smith Rowe, 8-Martin Odegaard, 35-Gabriel Martinelli — 14-Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
Arsenal subs (9): 33-Arthur Okonwo-GK, 3-Kieran Tierney, 16-Rob Holding, 23-Albert Sambi Lokonga, 15-Ainsley Maitland-Niles, 9-Alexandre Lacazette, 19-Nicholas Pepe, 7-Bukayo Saka, 30-Eddie Nketiah
MORE: How Mikel Arteta has transformed Arsenal
The match is only available in the USA on NBC’s streaming platform Peacock.
In Canada, the Premier League is available exclusively, live and on-demand, on DAZN . And DAZN offers new customers a 30-day free trial period.