Ole Gunnar Solskjaer reviews Manchester City defeat
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Cristiano Ronaldo’s Manchester United woes might be affecting him after he drew another blank for Portugal on the international stage. The legendary forward failed to score for the first time in three games for his country as their match with Ireland ended in a goalless stalemate.
Ronaldo spurned a host of incredible chances against the Republic of Ireland as he missed out on the chance to score his 800th career goal, with the United star currently on 798 for club and country.
He tried to create a chance in the opening few minutes but nobody could get on the end of his driven cross.
In the second half, he smashed a free-kick straight into the Ireland wall before missing the best opportunity of the game.
The United icon rose above Jeff Hendrick but failed to properly connect with a close-range header. His effort dropped slightly wide of Gavin Bazunu’s goal.
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United fans might also have winced when their hero went down with what appeared to be a back injury, but he managed to see the game through.
It was a goalless draw with an Ireland side who were unlucky not to win. Stephen Kenny’s side had a strike harshly disallowed.
Matt Doherty powered home from inside the box but Will Keane was adjudged to have fouled goalkeeper Rui Patricio in the build-up.
Ronaldo’s lacklustre performance could be proof of a hangover from United’s frustrating period.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side have suffered three defeats in their last four matches. Their 2-0 reverse against rivals Manchester City was their fourth Premier League loss of the season.
It effectively rules them out of the title race even before Christmas.
Ronaldo has been one of the star players for Solskjaer and has already come to their rescue several times. He scored a brace in the 2-2 Champions League draw with Atalanta last week, with both goals coming in added-time at the end of each half.
He has scored nine goals in 13 appearances across all competitions. However, at 36, fatigue could begin to set in.
How Ronaldo performs for the remainder of the season will be vital to United if they are to get out of their current funk, but the forward currently looks like he’s struggling for form.
Solskjaer, who is under pressure to turn around results, compared Ronaldo to basketball star Michael Jordan after that draw with Atalanta.
“Cristiano for us is like Michael Jordan for Chicago Bulls,” Solskjaer said of the veteran, who completed a blockbuster return to United in the summer.
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“They just don’t give up and they don’t give in and they keep going. We had to make a few changes, and they worked.
“It was a tight game that flowed both ways. I think their first goal was offside because he interferes with David [De Gea]’s view and the second goal is very close.
“But Cristiano is just incredible. That’s what he does and if there’s anyone you want the chance – and a difficult chance – to go to in the last minute it is him. His technique on that volley was incredible.”
Solskjaer and United might need Ronaldo to reach yet another level if they are to recover their season.
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