Tottenham Hotspur 0-3 Manchester United: Cristiano Ronaldo scores and assists to ease pressure on Ole Gunnar Solskjær

Ole Gunnar Solskjær said that Manchester United had returned from “a difficult week”, after they turned the heat on his Tottenham opponent Nuno Espirito Santo with a fully deserved victory.

Cristiano Ronaldo was the inspiration behind an excellent United display, which provided the perfect answer to last week’s 5-0 defeat by Liverpool at Old Trafford, which raised questions about Solskjær’s future.

Solskjær is not out of the woods yet, but Ronaldo made life much more comfortable for his boss with a sublime long-post volley from Bruno Fernandes’ post six minutes before the break, followed by a sliding pass to set Edinson Cavani up for a second after 64 minutes.

“The most important thing for the fans and me and the players is that we connect,” said the Norwegian boss, whose team got a first victory in five Premier League matches.

“It’s been a tough week for the players, the club, the fans, for me. I’ve stayed away from most of the noise. But you know what’s going on out there and you know you have to perform.

“Every time you lose a game, it’s the worst feeling in the world as a coach or manager. We needed the whole week to work on that performance.”

Marcus Rashford ended things with a cool finish four minutes after the walk as Spurs fans erupted in rage against Nuno and their chairman Daniel Levy, shouting “we want Levy out” as an echo around the big stadium.

Tottenham were mediocre with Harry Kane barely in the game and unrest among their fans, which turned on manager Nuno as he replaced Lucas Moura with Steven Bergwijn in the second half.

Ronaldo to the rescue

Ronaldo demonstrated his world-class talent, just when Solskjær and United needed it most in a match they simply could not afford to lose.

Well helped by the tireless and excellent Cavani, the Portuguese striker added the boom to a United performance that was a huge improvement over that disaster against Liverpool, although it was not difficult and the Spurs were very poor opponents.

Ronaldo was a constant threat with his move as he also saw a thunderous attack ruled out for offside as United dominated.

He showed brilliant technique to his goal and then demonstrated the perfect link-up with Cavani to send the Uruguayan in for a typically composite finish that effectively ended the competition.

Solskjær was able to recover Raphael Varane in his defense along with captain Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof in a back three that comfortably handled the flimsy attacking effort from other Spurs.

Cristiano Ronaldo.
Cristiano Ronaldo’s opener was his first Premier League goal in almost six weeks since United’s 2-1 win over West Ham

And although this should be placed in the context that Spurs are simply not in the same class as Liverpool, it was still a very satisfying 90 minutes for Solskjær after what has been a shocking week in the wake of the destruction of Liverpool in front of their own fans.

However, that can only be the start, with United playing Atalanta in Italy in the Champions League this week before a derby meeting with Manchester City at Old Trafford on Saturday lunchtime.

There is a long way to go for United and Solskjær from that Liverpool loss, but where there is Ronaldo, there is hope.

This was a highly effective all-round performance and a well-deserved victory.

Spurs supporters in mutiny

Spurs coach Nuno has struggled to win supporters, but the atmosphere inside this huge arena became mutiny as they escaped to defeat here.

They were already in a gloomy mood before Nuno made the very controversial decision to replace Moura with Bergwijn nine minutes after the break. The stadium was engrossed in loud buzz and shouts of “you do not know what to do” directed at Nuno.

And when Rashford ran late through more non-existent defenses to add spot to injury, Levy was in the firing line as thousands of Spurs fans got up and left.

Tottenham failed to get a shot on goal and even Kane felt the home fans’ frustration when a post went astray.

Nuno’s status, far down the list of wanted managers when Spurs switched to replace the fired Jose Mourinho, always meant he needed a quick start, but his sterile football style and the way they barely put a glove on United , triggered an angry reaction.

United’s confidence would have been fragile after the way they were dismantled by Liverpool, but the Spurs were so cautious, leaning back and playing a wait-and-see match that allowed Solskjær’s team to grow into the match and take control.

Nuno cut a lone figure as he felt the anger of Spurs fans who looked almost as lost as Solskjær did at Old Trafford last Sunday when Liverpool revolted.

And Kane is the fighting symbol of Spurs’ current situation tumbling around the margins and a target for the same fans who were once proud to call him “one of our own”.

Kane has looked a different, reduced player since a proposed move to Manchester City fell through this summer, though it should also be added that the service to the England captain was negligible. It was Son Heung-min who carried most of the energy and threat on a thoroughly miserable night for the Spurs.

Nuno now need victories quickly, with a home game against Vitesse – who beat Spurs nine days ago in Arnhem – in the Europa Conference League before a visit to Everton presents a dangerous match list.

Nuno Espirito Santos' decision to withdraw Lucas Moura did not go down well with Tottenham fans
Nuno Espirito Santos’ decision to withdraw Lucas Moura did not go down well with Tottenham fans

The player of the match

CavaniEdinson Cavani

Lineups

Tottenham

Formation 4-2-3-1

  • 1Lloris
  • 12Souza Junior Milk
  • 4RomeroReserved in 90 min
  • 15Animals
  • 33DaviesReserved in 78 min
  • 5Højbjerg
  • 29shipReplaced forNdombeleon 66 ‘minutes
  • 27Lucas MouraReplaced forMountain wineon 54 ‘minutes
  • 18CelsoReplaced forThereon 73 ‘minutes
  • 7Son Heung-Min
  • 10sleigh

Deputies

  • 2Doherty
  • 3Reguilón
  • 6D Sánchez
  • 14Rodon
  • 20There
  • 22Gollini
  • 23Mountain wine
  • 25Hands
  • 28Ndombele

Man Utd

Formation 3-5-2

  • 1de Gea
  • 2Lindelöf
  • 19Early
  • 5MaguireReserved for 22 min
  • 29Wan-Bissaka
  • 18Bruno FernandesReplaced forMaticon 76 ‘minutes
  • 39McTominay
  • 17PeaceReserved in 73 min
  • 23ShawReserved 19 min
  • 21CavaniReplaced forLingardon 82 ‘minutes
  • 7Cristiano RonaldoReplaced forRashfordon 71 ‘minutes

Deputies

  • 3Bailly
  • 10Rashford
  • 11Greenwood
  • 14Lingard
  • 20Dalot
  • 25Sancho
  • 26Henderson
  • 31Matic
  • 34van de Beek

Judging:
Stuart Attwell

Presence:
60,356

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