Ronaldo keeps United’s top-four hopes alive

Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo’s hat-trick saw Manchester United (7/1 Top 4 Finish) move up to fifth in the Premier League table and reignite their Champions league push as they struggled past bottom club Norwich City 3-2 at Old Trafford.

On the back of last Saturday’s 1-0 defeat at Everton, United again lacked rhythm but took advantage of two Ben Gibson errors, Anthony Elanga dispossessing the defender to assist Ronaldo’s first before the Portuguese got in ahead of his man to nod a second.

Kieran Dowell reduced the arrears ahead of the break before Teemu Pukki equalised when United’s defence was again caught out of position on 52 minutes.

However, Ronaldo saved the day again, powering a free-kick past Tim Krul with 76 minutes remaining.

It was another frustrating afternoon for Norwich but the result boosts United’s top-four chances and David de Gea says they will continue to push until the very end of the season.

“Ronaldo has scored three very important goals for us,” he told BBC Sport. “We know we aren’t playing very well but we got three points. We should control the game more against Norwich at home.

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“A massive win for us. We still have a chance to finish top four and we have to fight for it. We will fight for the top four until the last second.”

In the early game, Tottenham (4/9 Top 4 Finish) saw their top-four hopes hit by a 1-0 home defeat to Brighton.

After seemingly stealing a march in the battle for Champions League qualification, Spurs were flat throughout the contest, and Brighton claimed a deserved victory as Leandro Trossard danced through the home defence before flashing home past Hugo Lloris in the 90th minute.

Tottenham defender Eric Dier admitted his side were second best, telling BT Sport: “We knew it was going to be tough and I don’t think we were right from the beginning. We struggled to create chances and conceded a sloppy goal.

“We wanted to set a marker and we haven’t done that. I am sure there will be a lot of twists and turns.”

The result seals a north London double for Brighton after last week’s 2-1 win at Arsenal (9/4 Top 4 Finish). The Gunners again fell short on Saturday as Jan Bednarek’s strike ended Southampton’s run of six games without a victory, simultaneously consigning Mikel Arteta’s men to a third straight defeat.

Finally to the late drama at Vicarage Road where Brentford sealed a fifth win in six games with Pontus Jansson’s late header securing a 2-1 victory. However, the result only adds to Watford’s woes and the Hornets (12/1 To Stay Up) have still won just twice since Roy Hodgson’s arrival in January and now sit six points from safety with as many games to play.

That’s a point better off than Norwich (20/1 To Stay Up) who prop up the standings. Further up the table, Tottenham sit fourth ahead of United and Arsenal, with the latter pair’s clash at the Emirates next Saturday potentially pivotal to both teams’ hopes.

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Author: Lucille White