David de Gea stood out, but Cristiano Ronaldo made the difference as Manchester United eked out a 1-0 win over Norwich City on Saturday.
The first half was bereft of quality, with chances coming few and far between, as Norwich City looked strangle out their visitors with a resolute defensive display. However, Manchester United still created a few half openings, with Alex Telles, Cristiano Ronaldo and Harry Maguire being denied by Tim Krul.
The Canaries started the second half the stronger of the two sides, with Teemu Pukki forcing a fine fingertip save from David de Gea. The Manchester United no. 1 was also at hand to deny Ozan Kabak on a couple of occasions, which helped him preserve his clean sheet and kept his team in the game.
The performance from de Gea would prove crucial, as Manchester United only managed one goal, finally breaking the deadlock in the 75th minute through a Cristiano Ronaldo penalty after the Red Devils’ talisman had been brought down inside the box. The solitary goal was enough to earn all three points, as Manchester United climbed to fifth in the Premier League table. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Ralf Rangnick’s men.
David de Gea: 9/10
If Manchester United seal a close win, chances are de Gea had a role to play in keeping their opposition at bay. That is exactly what happened on Saturday, as the Spaniard produced five saves in the game, with the stops to deny Teemu Pukki and Ozan Kabak standing out. However, he needs to offer so much more in possession while being more vocal, which is why he does not get a perfect ten.
⭐️ Man of the Match, @ManUtd’s David De Gea
⛔️ 200th clean sheet of his senior career
159 Man Utd
22 Atletico Madrid
Kept back-to-back PL clean sheets for the 1st time since Jan/Feb pic.twitter.com/R7WOsTd8cx
— Sky Sports Statto (@SkySportsStatto) December 11, 2021
Diogo Dalot: 7/10
Given another chance to impress, Dalot was the best defender on the pitch, making three big blocks while also completing three clearances and two interceptions. There were one or two iffy defensive moments, but none of them provided a major cause for concern. He was not too creative in the final third, though.
Victor Lindelof: 6/10
Lindelof produced a blow-hot-blow-cold performance against Norwich, facing some nervy moments at the back while not being as accurate with the ball at his feet. However, he made some crucial clearances and interceptions before being taken off. Speaking of, his condition before his substitution will be a major concern for Rangnick.
Harry Maguire: 6/10
Maguire faced a couple of hairy moments at the back on Saturday. However, for the most part, the Manchester United captain was solid, completing six clearances and winning five aerial duels. He even came close to scoring in the first half, only to be denied by Tim Krul.
Alex Telles: 6/10
Telles was hit and miss against Norwich, as he carried a great threat on the ball and even forced a big save out of Krul with an early free-kick. Defensively, he faced a few nervy moments against Przemyslaw Placheta but held his ground well as the game wore on.
Scott McTominay: 7/10
Scott McTominay’s game by numbers vs. Norwich City:
88% pass accuracy
65 total touches
7 ball recoveries
3 attempted tackles
3 successful tackles
2 chances created
A big shift in the middle third. 🏴 pic.twitter.com/ShXAtkbl5v
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) December 11, 2021
McTominay produced a mixed bag of a performance, but the positives far outweighed the negatives. When Norwich looked to overpower Manchester United, the Scot made several ball recoveries and won eight duels in all. He also completed a couple of key passes, with one moment linking up with Cristiano Ronaldo standing out.
Fred seems to be a player reborn since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s departure. On Saturday, the Brazilian midfielder was again a menace in the middle of the pitch, completing seven tackles and winning a staggering 11 duels. At the same time, he also boasted the best passing accuracy among players who played over 45 minutes – 91 per cent.
Fred’s game by numbers vs. Norwich City:
91% pass accuracy
75% long pass accuracy
11 ground duels contested
10 ground duels won
7 attempted tackles
7 successful tackles
2 attempted dribbles
2 successful dribbles
Continuing to impress the new boss. 🇧🇷 pic.twitter.com/zkbQJ3j8zw
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) December 11, 2021
Jadon Sancho: 5/10
Sancho has been touted to have a bright future with Ralf Rangnick in charge of Manchester United. However, against Norwich, the Englishman reverted to his old ways, failing to take any risks when linking up with teammates, although he did play a couple of key passes. However, he needs to do so much more with the bundles of quality he possesses.
Bruno Fernandes: 4/10
It seems as if a switch has been turned off for Bruno Fernandes, with the Portuguese international producing one dreadful performance after another. On Saturday, he could not execute the Hollywood passes he is fond of engineering and was not on the same wavelength as his teammates out in front. He lost possession 26 times through the game while having a paltry passing rate of 67 per cent.
Cristiano Ronaldo: 7/10
Ronaldo produced a performance that he has regularly showcased since rejoining Manchester United. The Portuguese star was sloppy with some of his touches, while his movement left a lot to be desired. However, Ronaldo was at hand to convert the penalty he won with venom, earning the Red Devils all three points in the process.
Cristiano Ronaldo has now scored against ONE-HUNDRED-AND-SIXTY-FIVE different teams in his career. 🤯
120 clubs. 45 countries. pic.twitter.com/Khj0zoXOcb
— William Hill (@WilliamHill) December 11, 2021
Marcus Rashford: 5/10
Rashford has not managed to get going at all since returning from an injury a couple of months ago. While the Englishman saw a lot of the ball, he was utterly wasteful with some of his touches and passes, losing possession 20 times in the game. The only reason he does not get a lower rating is because of the late chance he created for Ronaldo.
Mason Greenwood: 6/10
On for Sancho, Greenwood was not as involved as he would have liked, with Norwich in control of the proceedings in the final quarter of the game. As a result, he managed only seven touches and did not even muster a shot.
Eric Bailly: N/A
Brought on in place of Lindelof, Bailly produced a mixed bag of a cameo but made a crucial late block to preserve Manchester United’s clean sheet.
Donny van de Beek: N/A
A late introduction, van de Beek helped see the game out.