Friday, May 24

Ronaldo’s hat-trick raises prospect of United finishing among top four

Agencies

Cristiano Ronaldo sealed his hat-trick with a stunning free-kick to secure a 3-2 victory for Manchester United over Norwich, having earlier blown a two-goal lead at Old Trafford on Saturday night.

According to media reports, Ronaldo’s second hat-trick in five games put some shine on otherwise underwhelming performance of United, whose pursuit for a top-four spot was nonetheless strengthened thanks to defeats of rivals Arsenal and Tottenham.

They looked to be strolling to victory when Ronaldo was teed up for an early tap-in after Ben Gibson was caught in possession in the 7th minute and grabbed a second by nodding home Alex Telles’ corner in the 32nd minute. Norwich had created chances without threatening to defy their goal-shy reputation until Kieran Dowell headed Teemu Pukki’s cross past David de Gea on the stroke of half-time, and the Finland striker beat the offside trap to level seven minutes into the second half.

On an afternoon where the pre-match preparations had been overshadowed by widespread protests outside the ground against the Glazer ownership, the atmosphere around Old Trafford began to sour to the point that Paul Pogba was booed on his substitution at 2-2. However, Ronaldo’s 25-yard thunderbolt free-kick winner with 15 minutes remaining restored the good feeling around the ground, and put the hosts right back in contention to finish fourth. Norwich remain seven points from safety with six games to play, with their hopes of survival continuing to look increasingly bleak.

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