Ralf Rangnick got off to a winning start as Manchester United manager on Sunday as his new side secured a narrow 1-0 win over Crystal Palace thanks to a fabulous Fred goal.
The Brazilian was the unlikely hero on 77 minutes as he curled a sublime effort into the top corner, just as it looked like Rangnick’s first match was going to trickle away to a goalless draw.
The Red Devils had been the dominant force in the game, clearly taking up a new style of play under the German, pressing higher up the pitch and much more effectively than anything they have shown in recent months.
However, they were lacking a cutting edge and struggled to create good opportunities, with Palace going from surviving in the first half, to fancying their chances of an upset in the second period.
Just as the Eagles were beginning to spread their wins, Fred clipped them with his excellent goal, laid on by substitute Mason Greenwood, as he found the top corner from the edge of the box.
Manchester United looked like a very different team from the start of the match, with Rangnick clearly getting his philosophy into the players after just one training session with the,.
There was far more pressing than had been seen before the German arrived, with the Red Devils doing their best to win the ball back in the opponent’s half, with Cristiano Ronaldo getting involved and Marcus Rashford doing much more closing down than we have seen from him this season so far.
The Old Trafford faithful were enjoyed the higher energy and faster pace in the opening stanza, but there was not a great deal by way of clear chances for their side, or indeed the visitors.
Ronaldo sent a couple of early efforts wide, Fernandes forced a save from Vicente Guaita midway into the half and Diogo Dalot had a wayward effort just before half-time as an impressive performance didn’t yield anything for Rangnick’s men.
The home side continued to dominate possession in the second half but did not really look any more dangerous as the afternoon wound on and things became more gloomy at Old Trafford.
Mason Greenwood replaced Jadon Sancho just after the hour mark but after that it was Palace who started to look a bit more confident than United as they sensed the possibility of snatching a shock win.
The best chance of the contest then fell to the Eagles with 15 minutes to play as Jordan Ayew sent a shot wide from only a couple of yards out after James Tomkins headed a ball down from a corner.
However, just as things were looking a bit dodgy for the new boss, quite out of nowhere, Fred opened the scoring with a superb finish and brought a fist pump out of his manager.
Greenwood laid the ball to the Brazilian on the edge of the penalty area and he curled in an excellent effort over the goalkeeper and into the far top corner to light up Old Trafford.
The Brazilian’s goal was the only one of the game with Palace unable to bounce back from the disappointment of conceding, although they did put United under some pressure with late corners testing out the home side’s defence.
Ronaldo played the full 90 minutes in his first match under Rangnick, after there had been questions raised over whether the German would fancy the veteran in his new high pressing system.
The new boss introduced Donny van de Beek, in what could be an encouraging sign for the beleaguered Dutchman, and exciting youngster Anthony Elanga, showing that he is already paying attention to United’s famed youth system.
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