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Scores, Cristiano Ronaldo taken off, Manchester United, benched, reaction, Ralf Rangnick, Tottenham goals
Manchester United got back on track with a 3-1 win at Brentford on Wednesday, but Cristiano Ronaldo’s petulant reaction to his substitution cast a shadow over their first victory in three Premier League games.
Ralf Rangnick’s side were indebted to David de Gea for a superb first-half display that kept Brentford at bay before United finally sprang to life in west London.
Anthony Elanga put United in front early in the second half before Mason Greenwood and Marcus Rashford wrapped up the points.
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United are the first club to record 300 Premier League away victories despite Brentford’s late reply from Ivan Toney.
They sit seventh in the table, two points adrift of the top four as they chase qualification for next season’s Champions League.
But it was Ronaldo’s grumpy response to Rangnick’s decision to haul him off in the 71st minute that could prove the evening’s lasting image.
Shaking his head and muttering to himself, Ronaldo appeared to say “Why me? Why me … Why would you take me off?” as he walked off.
Angrily throwing his coat to the floor, Ronaldo pointed at his chest while his team-mates on the bench nervously looked away.
Rangnick initially ignored Ronaldo before sitting next to him and patting the Portugal forward on the leg as he attempted to placate him.
Rangnick said post-game of the decision: “He wants to score goals and I have to bear in mind we have a game in three days’ time. We had to defend the 2-0 lead and it was the right decision to switch to a back five.”
The 36-year-old’s strop will raise fresh questions about his willingness to fit into Rangnick’s system after his latest underwhelming display.
United at least avoided another embarrassing result after losing at home to Wolves and letting a two-goal lead slip in a draw at Aston Villa in their previous two league games.
– United revival –
Ronaldo, back after missing two matches with a hip problem, was nearly gifted an early goal when debutant keeper Jonas Lossl dropped a cross at the forward’s feet, but the Bees were able to scramble clear.
Despite that scare, Brentford were hardly cowed by United after beating Arsenal and drawing with Liverpool at home earlier this season.
Originally scheduled for December before a coronavirus postponement, Brentford had been made to wait for their first league meeting with United since 1947 and they played as though determined to make up for lost time.
Thomas Frank’s fired-up team went close through Bryan Mbeumo, whose low shot forced a fine save from De Gea before Vitaly Janelt’s close-range effort was blocked by Alex Telles.
Brentford were well on top and Mads Bech Sorensen saw his strike deflected into the side-netting off Bruno Fernandes.
Toney tore through United’s defence, setting up Mathias Jensen for a shot that was well saved by De Gea.
United could not have been any worse in the opening period, yet they played with far more urgency after the interval.
Ronaldo nearly gave them the lead when he met Fernandes’ cross with a looping header onto the bar.
It was a warning Brentford failed to heed and, after Toney headed straight at De Gea, Swedish teenager Elanga made the hosts pay for their profligacy in the 55th minute.
Fred clipped a pass into the Brentford area and Elanga knocked the ball up in the air before heading past Lossl from close range.
Elanga’s first goal this season changed the mood completely and United struck again in the 62nd minute.
With Brentford appealing in vain for offside, Fernandes surged onto Ronaldo’s chest down and slipped a pass to Greenwood, who slotted into the empty net for his first goal in seven games.
After Ronaldo’s temper tantrum, it must have been a relief to Rangnick that Rashford, on as a substitute, notched United’s third goal with a fine finish from Fernandes’ pass in the 77th minute.
Toney scored from close range on 85 minutes but it far too late for Brentford.
TOTTENHAM’S INCREDIBLE TWO-MINUTE ESCAPE
Steven Bergwijn scored twice deep into stoppage time to rescue a vital three points for Tottenham’s bid for a top-four Premier League finish with a thrilling 3-2 win at Leicester on Wednesday.
The Foxes looked set to snatch victory against the run of play as Patson Daka and James Maddison struck either side of Harry Kane’s first-half equaliser.
However, Bergwijn, who had not scored a Premier League goal this season, came off the bench to turn the game on its head in a dramatic finale.
Instead of suffering Antonio Conte’s first league defeat since taking charge in November, victory lifts Spurs above north London rivals Arsenal into fifth and within a point of fourth-placed West Ham with three games in hand.
The match had been rescheduled at Leicester’s request after they were unable to field a side in December due to a combination of coronavirus cases and injuries.
Brendan Rodgers’ men remain severely depleted with four players away at the Africa Cup of Nations on top of a long injury list.
Midfielder Hamza Choudhury was forced into a makeshift centre-back role in a back three and it showed as Spurs should have been out of sight by half-time.
Tottenham were fresh after their derby clash against Arsenal had been called off on Sunday against their will.
Kane looked better for the rest, but the England captain will wonder how he did not register at least a hat-trick.
His first effort was brilliantly cleared off the line by Luke Thomas as it arrowed towards the bottom corner.
Kane then thundered the crossbar with a header form a corner and Lucas Moura forced Kasper Schmeichel to full stretch.
But completely against the run of play, Leicester went in front when Daka, deputising for the injured Jamie Vardy, got the break of the ball inside the box and slotted beyond Lloris at his near post.
The French goalkeeper made amends for any questions over the goal with a fine save from Maddison moments later.
Kane finally got his 18th goal in 17 appearances against the club where he spent a short loan spell earlier in his career on 38 minutes as he raced onto Harry Winks’ through ball, cut inside Caglar Soyuncu and rolled in off the inside of the post.
Seconds later, Kane should have scored again when he blasted well over with just Schmeichel to beat.
Leicester posed more of a threat on the counter-attack after the break and Maddison should have done better when he fired straight at Lloris.
The midfielder thought he had the final say when he exchanged a one-two with Harvey Barnes and got the aid of a huge deflection off Japhet Tanganga to wrong-foot Lloris 14 minutes from time.
But the defensive frailties that have dogged Leicester’s season reappeared in stoppage time.
Bergwijn pounced to fire home after Matt Doherty’s effort was blocked by Soyuncu five minutes into stoppage time.
Straight from the kick-off, Youri Tielemans gave away possession cheaply and Kane played Bergwijn through once more to round Schmeichel and fire in off the post.
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