Cristiano Ronaldo continues to be the shining light in an otherwise disappointing season for Manchester United. Make those 18 goals in the English Premier League 2021-22 for the Portugal superstar after he converted a penalty that he earned himself in a 3-0 victory over Brentford on Monday.
Ronaldo also had a goal disallowed at Old Trafford for a narrow offside as Manchester United saved one of its best performances of the season for its final home game. Bruno Fernandes and Raphael Varane, with his first in English football, were the other scorers.
The victory kept alive, at least mathematically, sixth-placed United’s chance of finishing in the top four and qualifying for next season’s Champions League. United has only two games remaining and is five points behind fourth-placed Arsenal and three behind Tottenham, with both rivals still having four to play.
The hosts took the lead in the ninth minute when Bruno Fernandes swept home in the centre of the area from Anthony Elanga’s cross as United looked to solidify their spot in the table and a place in next season’s Europa League.
Ronaldo, who has netted in each of his last four games, is third on the league’s list of top scorers behind Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah (22) and Tottenham’s Son Heung-min (19). And he’ll be back again next season, unlike some of the other players in United’s team.
United fans gave standing ovations to departing veterans Nemanja Matic and Juan Mata as they were substituted on their final Old Trafford appearances. It was also the last home game in charge for interim manager Ralf Rangnick, who will be replaced by Erik ten Hag during the offseason.
“The last game of the season at home, we wanted a good result and a good performance,” United captain Fernandes said after scoring his 50th goal for the club. “We know our standard has not been at [the level] everyone expects, and our own expectations were bigger than this.
“The club has to get back at the level it deserves. There will be a time to meet the new coach [Erik ten Hag] and learn the way he wants to play, but first we must finish the season well.”
Rangnick said the win over Brentford was a vast improvement when compared to their recent form.
“We were in control for most parts,” Rangnick said. “In possession, that was one of our best performances this year. It was the type of performance we wanted to show to our supporters.
“We played with Juan Mata and Nemanja Matic, and that gave us some quality in midfield. It was not too easy for Brentford to take the ball away from us.
“In the first half we played too many square and back passes but in general it was a good performance.”