Manchester United relied on seasoned activists to beat Norwich after Cristiano Ronaldo and David de Gea proved that age is only a number.
A surprisingly even fight in the first 15 minutes brought hardly any scoring chances. It was left to Alex Telles after a set piece situation to endanger the deadlock when his deflected free kick ricocheted off the crossbar.
A lengthy hiatus then brought the competition to a standstill after Grant Hanley sustained a shoulder injury. The center-back crashed after an aerial duel with Cristiano Ronaldo and was replaced by Jacob Sorensen.
United looked like a team that was changing, lacking fluidity and rhythm. Nevertheless, they could have taken the lead in the first half through Ronaldo.
The Portuguese icon was brought in on the right, but his loose first touch forced him to cut inward. After two defenders executed clever feint, his curvy left-foot shot was brought to safety by Tim Krul.
Pressure from Norwich as the break loomed threatened to expose United. As the Canary Islands fans have gotten used to it this season, however, their efforts were not rewarded with a goal when Lukas Rupp’s tame header was safely collected by David de Gea.
The Spaniard was called into action again after the break, but this time Norwich’s streak was a little more terrifying.
Victor Lindelof’s indecision gave Teemu Pukki time and space to shoot from the edge of the box. His stroke was firm and true, but not accurate enough to fly past the diving De Gea.
David de Gea to the rescue for #MUFC 🧤
That was the great opportunity for Pukki!
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) December 11, 2021
Then Sorensen threatened as United conceded a number of corners. With 30 minutes to go, Norwich seemed the more likely of the two to break through.
Mason Greenwood replaced Jadon Sancho while Ralf Rangnick shuffled his deck. The truth is, none of United’s strikers could have complained if their numbers had increased.
With little choice between the teams, Ronaldo earned his team a penalty out of nowhere after being dragged to the ground by Max Aarons.
Ronaldo’s fall in the theater and his loud yowling ensured the referee couldn’t ignore the call when in truth it was an unnecessary foul by Aarons, with Ronaldo’s flying skills likely on his mind.
Krul did his best to fend off Ronaldo but the Portuguese kept his nerve and put his side in the lead after sending Krul in the wrong direction.
De Gea follows Ronaldo’s lead
Norwich almost restored parity less than two minutes later when ex-Liverpool center-back Ozan Kabak defeated Harry Maguire in the air. His header was meant for the far corner, but a spectacular jump stop by De Gea spared Maguire’s blush.
A lively run by Marcus Rashford then wreaked havoc on the lower left. His setback on Ronaldo was slightly outlandish, however, and meant that the veteran could hardly do more than bump the bar at close range while the goal gaped.
De Gea then secured the man of the match when he made another important save against Kabak in added time. That night, it was the Man Utd veterans who stood up straight.
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