Player Ratings: Ronaldo heroics ease pressure, recalled stars excel as Man Utd sink Tottenham
The pressure on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer eased significantly after his tactical tweaks and selections paid off in a big way as Manchester United thumped Tottenham 3-0.
With the world’s gaze on a crucial Manchester United clash with Tottenham, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer changed tactics when deploying a back three. The extra defensive-minded body on the pitch yielded immediate dividends, with United looking a more solid unit than the one that were humbled against Liverpool.
A cagey first half saw both teams struggling to make an impact going forward until Cristiano Ronaldo produced a moment of magic.
Bruno Fernandes fed his Portuguese teammate after Ronaldo drifted into a yard of space off the back of Ben Davies. The pass was perfectly weighted to be hit first time and Ronaldo did not disappoint, smashing the ball beyond Hugo Lloris to make it 1-0.
Just as Spurs began to find their feet in the final third, United bagged a pressure-easing second through Edinson Cavani and then a third through Marcus Rashford.
The recalled Uruguayan ran his blood to water and earned a stellar rating, but even he had to play second fiddle to our man of the match…
Hugo Lloris: Relatively untroubled in the first half hour until saving well from a swerving Fred strike. Could do little about each of United’s three goals as his defence in front gave away. 6/10
Emerson Royal: Stood up well to the threat of Ronaldo who drifted out to the left on occasion. Got forward when he could but too often saw his final ball fail to find his intended destination. 5
Cristiano Romero: Still bedding in at Spurs but the signs are there he will develop into a top player in the future. Saw a goal ruled out for offside. Neither he nor Dier could do anything about Ronaldo’s goal after the striker drifted to the far post to feast on Davies. Lost Cavani for the Uruguayan’s goal and began to fade as the contest wore on. 5
Eric Dier: Didn’t put a foot wrong in the first half and always looked to punch his passes through the lines to get Spurs on the front foot. Struggled in the second half as United found their cutting edge at the most critical of times. 5
Ben Davies: Bombed forward down the left, but often lacked end product when in dangerous areas. Caught out for Man Utd’s opener when Ronaldo showed clever movement to drift into a yard of space behind the Welshman. Guilty of playing Rashford onside for the third. 3
Cristiano Ronaldo with the breakthrough for Manchester United and what a wonderful finish on the volley!
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Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg: Neat and tidy on the ball in the engine room, though lacked ambition with his passing range at times. 5
Oliver Skipp: Helped Spurs compete well in the middle but could have shifted the ball quicker to help his forwards get at a United defence drastically low on confidence. Robbed of possession by Fernandes in the build-up to United’s third just as Tottenham were beginning to apply pressure. Immediately replaced by Ndombele. 4
Lucas Moura: Sublime chipped through ball to feed Son who blazed over the bar. Replaced by Bergwijn in the 54th minute in a move that drew loud boos from the home fans. 5
Giovani Lo Celso: Subdued display in the first half and wasted a glorious opportunity to give Son a 1v1 when passing behind the South Korean after the break. 4
Son Heung-min: Typically energetic in the early stages as Spurs sought to establish a foothold. Should have scored when sent through by Lucas but couldn’t tame the bouncing ball before lifting harmlessly over. Missed again when gifted a chance to punish De Gea’s sloppy distribution immediately after the break. The one Spurs forward who looked like he is up for the fight at present. 6
Harry Kane: Struggled to impact proceedings with the first half passing the off-form striker by. Virtually anonymous after the break in what is becoming a worrying trend. 4
Steven Bergwijn (On for Lucas, 53m): Tried hard but made little impact. 5
Tanguy Ndombele (On for Skipp, 66m): 5
Dele Alli (On for Lo Celso, 72m): N/A
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David de Gea: Not called into action in the first half as Spurs continued to lack potency and cutting edge in the final third. Remained untested after the break. 7/10
Victor Lindelof: Adapted well to the change to a back three. 7
Raphael Varane: Brave when prepared to step out of the back three and engage onrushing attackers. Became increasingly vocal in the second half with his vast experience serving him well. 8
Harry Maguire: Snapped into tackles early as he sought to put last week’s nightmare in the rear-view mirror. Unfortunate to be booked for a challenge on Lo Celso when it appeared Varane’s tackle had the greater effect. 7
Aaron Wan-Bissaka: Tasked with upping his attacking output when deployed as a wingback and began brightly with a series of directs runs. Never shirked his defensive duties and showed great pace to get back at Son when through on goal before the offside flag went up. 7
Scott McTominay: Battled hard in the middle and looks the one central midfielder on the books with the brightest future. 7
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Fred: Always willing to show for the ball and helped United settle their nerves in the early going. Forced Lloris into action with a devilish swerving drive from distance. Lucky his side weren’t punished when dispossessed in a dangerous area by Romero, but Lo Celso’s through ball to Son was poor. 6
Luke Shaw: Booked for a cynical rugby-style tackle on Lucas Moura after dispossessed cheaply by Romero. 7
Bruno Fernandes: Always a threat on the counter and could’ve bagged an assist when crossing to Cavani. Showed tenacity to rob Skipp of possession to kick off the move for Cavani’s goal. 8
Edinson Cavani: Glanced a header agonisingly wide in a chance his reaction suggested he should have buried. Kept his composure when set free by Ronaldo with a lovely dinked finish over Lloris in the second half. Replaced by Lingard with 10 minutes remaining after running his blood to water. 8
CAVANI MAKES IT TWO 🏹
A perfectly timed pass from Ronaldo to set up Edinson Cavani for a sweet finish to double United's lead
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— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) October 30, 2021
Cristiano Ronaldo: Quiet until bursting into life in the 39th minute when volleying Fernandes’ chipped through ball beyond Lloris. The Portuguese icon displayed terrific movement to drift off the back of Davies and the first-time finish was one few in world football would’ve been able to match.
Excellent link-up play with Fernandes and Cavani in the build-up to United’s second. Quick feet dismissed one defender before slipping in Cavani who completed the move with consummate ease. Given a breather with 20 minutes remaining with more heroics needed against Atalanta midweek and Manchester City next weekend. 9 (Man of the match)
Marcus Rashford (On for Ronaldo, 71m): Took his chance superbly when timing his run superbly for United’s third. 7
Nemanja Matic (On for Fernandes, 76m): N/A
Jesse Lingard (On for Cavani, 82m): N/A