Manchester United bounced back from humiliation at home to Liverpool to lift the pressure on besieged manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and turn the heat on his Tottenham counterpart Nuno Espirito Santo with a fully deserved victory.
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Cristiano Ronaldo was the inspiration behind an excellent United display which provided the perfect response to last week’s 5-0 thrashing at Old Trafford that raised questions over Solskjaer’s future.
The Norwegian manager is not out of the woods yet but Ronaldo made life much more comfortable for his boss with a sublime far-post volley from Bruno Fernandes’ cross six minutes before the break followed by a slide-rule pass to set up Edinson Cavani for a second after 64 minutes.
In contrast, Spurs were mediocre with Harry Kane barely in the game and unrest among their fans, who turned on manager Nuno when he replaced Lucas Moura with Steven Bergwijn in the second half.
Marcus Rashford wrapped things up with a cool finish four minutes from time as Spurs fans erupted in fury against Nuno and their chairman, with chants of “We want Levy out” echoing around the vast stadium.
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Ronaldo to the rescue
Experience key in crucial win over Spurs after ‘darkest’ week – Solskjaer
Ronaldo demonstrated his world-class talent just when Solskjaer and United needed it most in a game they simply could not afford to lose.
Aided by the tireless and outstanding Cavani, the Portuguese striker added the flourishes to a United performance that was a huge improvement on that catastrophe against Liverpool, although that was not difficult and Spurs were very poor opponents.
Ronaldo was a constant threat with his movement, also seeing a thunderous strike ruled out for offside as United dominated.
He showed glorious technique for his goal then demonstrated the perfect link-up with Cavani to send the Uruguayan in for a typically composed to finish which effectively ended the contest.
Solskjaer was able to restore Raphael Varane to his defence alongside captain Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof in a back three that dealt comfortably with the flimsy attacking efforts of out-of-sorts Spurs.
And while this must be placed in the context that Spurs are simply not in the same class as Liverpool, it was still a very satisfying 90 minutes for Solskjaer after what has been a harrowing week in the aftermath of that destruction by Liverpool in front of their own fans.
It can only be the start, however, with United playing Atalanta in Italy in the Champions League this week before a derby meeting with Manchester City at Old Trafford on Saturday lunchtime.
There is a long way back for United and Solskjaer from that Liverpool loss but where there is Ronaldo there is hope.
This was a highly efficient all-round performance and a win that was thoroughly merited.