Re­lief for United after goal No 2,000 sets up an­other away win

The National - News - - SPORT - JOHN McAULEY

With­out an away win in any com­pe­ti­tion since March, Manch­ester United sud­denly had two in three days.

They fol­lowed three points in Europe on Thurs­day by glean­ing the same haul at Nor­wich City on Sun­day.

They could even af­ford to spurn two penal­ties, both in the first half. They ren­dered re­dun­dant Tim Krul’s early heroics at Car­row Road, proving too strong for their strug­gling hosts to end an test­ing week on a pos­i­tive note.

United won 3-1, leap­ing from sixth bot­tom in the ta­ble to sev­enth. For the first time since the open­ing-day evis­cer­a­tion of Chelsea, Ole Gun­nar Sol­sk­jaer’s side had scored two goals in a game.

Scott McTom­i­nay got the first, se­cur­ing United’s po­si­tion as the first club to notch 2,000 goals in the Premier League.

Other land­mark scor­ers in­clude An­drew Cole (500), Cris­tiano Ron­aldo (1,000) and Dim­i­tar Ber­ba­tov (1,500). But the Scot­tish prod­uct of the club’s famed youth academy de­served his place in the record books.

One of the bet­ter per­form­ers in United’s worst start to a cam­paign in 33 years, McTom­i­nay con­tin­ued to con­trib­ute. On 21 min­utes, he pounced upon a failed clear­ance, swiv­elled and swept his low shot past Krul.

From there, the game veered into the un­ex­pected. Daniel James went down in the Nor­wich area and, al­though ref­eree Stu­art At­twell waved away ap­peals for a penalty, VAR over­turned the de­ci­sion.

Ben God­frey ap­peared to have been the one fouled, yet United were gifted the spot-kick. That Krul saved well from Mar­cus Rash­ford felt like jus­tice be­ing meted out. It was his sec­ond penalty miss this sea­son.

Within a minute, Rash­ford had atoned, latch­ing onto James’ rak­ing pass to take a touch and calmly slot un­der­neath Krul. Fi­nally, United had two in a game; Rash­ford his 50th goal for the club in all com­pe­ti­tions.

Be­fore the half was out, he passed up the op­por­tu­nity to add an­other. Fred fired against Todd Cantwell, who jumped with arms raised, VAR was again con­sulted and a penalty once more awarded. Again, though, Krul came to the res­cue, this time sav­ing com­fort­ably from An­thony Mar­tial.

It was more than just re­ward for the Nor­wich goal­keeper. Ear­lier, he had some­how blocked a Mar­tial header from point-blank range, thwarted Rash­ford from an acute an­gle and later tipped over from Fred.

Nor­wich, mean­while, were left to won­der would what have been had Cantwell con­verted the first chance of the match, only five min­utes in. In­stead, he blazed over from 15 yards. With­out a win in four matches – when they shocked cham­pi­ons Manch­ester City – and sec­ond from bot­tom, Nor­wich needed any help they could get.

It never ar­rived. At the be­gin­ning of the sec­ond half, Teemu Pukki fired high when well placed. Hav­ing scored six in his first five Premier League matches, he now has none in the five since.

In con­trast, Mar­tial ap­pears in rude health. On 72 min­utes, the French­man ex­changed passes with Rash­ford, latch­ing onto the lat­ter’s clever back­heel to scoop over Krul. Jus­ti­fy­ing his re­turn to the start­ing line-up, it was Mar­tial’s fourth goal in his past six matches.

With it, United of­fered Sol­sk­jaer fur­ther so­lace, the only blot Onel Her­nan­dez’s late con­so­la­tion for Nor­wich. Still, a first away win in nine Premier League at­tempts brought Sol­sk­jaer’s fifth vic­tory in the 18 matches since the Nor­we­gian got the job per­ma­nenly.

A seven-day stretch that be­gan with that make-or-break match-up with run­away lead­ers Liver­pool con­cluded with a draw and two vic­to­ries.

After Par­ti­zan Bel­grade in the Europa League on Thurs­day, Sol­sk­jaer called for mo­men­tum to be built at Nor­wich. From an ini­tially hel­ter-skel­ter con­test, his men emerged with mis­sion ac­com­plished.

Scott McTom­i­nay, right, after scor­ing United’s first goal

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