ANDY DUNN: Two more goals, one a winning penalty dispatched in flamboyant style, and Old Trafford was more interested in Cristiano Ronaldo than new boss Ralf Rangnick
No wonder Ralf Rangnick wore a wry smile as he looked down from his posh seat.
Ralf’s work ethic? HE is going to hate that. Ralf’s love of gegenpressing? HE hates pressing.
But HE wins football matches. Cristiano Ronaldo wins football matches.
Two more goals, one a winning penalty dispatched in flamboyant style, and Old Trafford was more interested in Ronnie than Ralf.
The German will not be fooled, though. This might have been a thrilling, much-needed victory but Rangnick will have left the stadium, knowing there is plenty to work on.
Rangnick has a major task ahead but at least he knows United are unlikely to concede a goal as bizarre as Arsenal’s first.
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If you wanted definitive, final evidence that VAR is, on balance, a positive thing, it came when Martin Atkinson tried to disallow Emile Smith-Rowe’s volley into an unguarded United net.
And why was it unguarded? Because the hapless Fred had trodden on David de Gea’s ankle and the Spaniard had fallen in a heap.
Presumably, Atkinson decided to chalk it off either out of sympathy for the Spanish keeper or because he guessed De Gea must have been fouled.
It was shocking officialdom, matched only in its grimness by De Gea’s theatrical collapse.
Thankfully, Andre Marriner, on duty in Stockley Park, had a word in Atkinson’s ear.
Quite what the United players were complaining about is anybody’s guess. Perhaps they wanted Atkinson to book Fred.
But any misplaced sense of injustice certainly revved up United.
And while there was hardly a menacing fluency about United’s attacking efforts, their urgency began to cause Arsenal some problems.
After playing a farcical part in Arsenal’s opener, no one had more urgency than Fred and he got his reward – and made amends – with the cutest of assists for United’s equaliser just before half-time.
Finding himself in a congested area after a mistake by Ben White had gifted United possession, Fred’s cut-back was clever, neat and finished by Bruno Fernandes.
While parity was just about fair at the interval, Rangnick – now he has his work permit – must have been tempted to send a few words of advice to the home dressing-room.
Something simple, perhaps, such as a tip to get one of the world’s greatest involved a little more.
Sure enough, Cristiano Ronaldo got a little bit of quality service and forced Aaron Ramsdale into a decent save, as did Marcus Rashford from long range.
And the pair combined to put United ahead, Ronaldo sweeping in Rashford’s sweet, square ball.
Rangnick, whose teachings are seen as unsuited to the ageing Ronaldo, broke into a wry smile.
It was a wry smile that, soon after, turned upside down as Gabriel Martinelli exploited space on the right flank and served up an opportunity that Martin Odegaard accepted with some aplomb.
Alas, in a game when saints turned sinners and vice-versa, Odegaard brought down Fred, the VAR had another word in Atkinson’s ear and the penalty was finally given and converted emphatically by that man Ronaldo.