By Simon Peach, PA Chief Football Writer
Cristiano Ronaldo reached 800 career goals as his brace secured Manchester United a much-needed victory against Arsenal as interim manager Ralf Rangnick saw his new side triumph from the stands.
A lot has changed at Old Trafford since their last home game 26 days ago, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer losing his job after that loss to Manchester City was compounded by a shocking defeat at Watford.
United coach Michael Carrick has steadied the ship during an unbeaten three-match caretaker stint that ended with an entertaining 3-2 victory against Arsenal at a bouncing Old Trafford.
It was only their second win in nine Premier League games and a timely shot in the arm ahead of Rangnick’s first game in charge against Crystal Palace this Sunday.
The German has signed a deal until the end of the season and Thursday’s match will have given him food for thought, having seen the quality and ongoing concerns first hand from the directors’ box.
Finding a way to keep clean sheets will be key if this season is to be a success for United, although there was little that could be done to prevent Emile Smith Rowe’s bizarre opener.
David De Gea was rolling around in pain when the Arsenal youngster struck, with the VAR instructing referee Martin Atkinson to award the goal as it was the Spaniard’s team-mate Fred that hurt the goalkeeper.
Bruno Fernandes, making his 100th United appearance, levelled before half-time, with Ronaldo turning home Marcus Rashford’s cross to bring up 800 goals for club and country early in the second half.
But Arsenal took just two minutes to bring this helter-skelter clash back level as Martin Odegaard found the net with a low finish – good work undone 16 minutes later by his rash challenge on Fred inside the box.
Atkinson awarded the penalty after the VAR advised he watch the pitchside monitor, with Ronaldo keeping his cool in front of the Stretford End to lash home what proved to be the winner.