Rangnick starts Manchester United reign with win as Spurs stroll

OLD TRAFFORD-New Manchester United boss Ralf Rangnick praised his side's "exceptional" play after a hard-fought 1-0 win against Crystal Palace on Sunday as Tottenham crushed Norwich 3-0 to extend their recent revival under Antonio Conte.
Manchester United's Portuguese defender Diogo Dalot (L) vies with Crystal Palace's Ivorian striker Wilfried Zaha (R) during the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Crystal Palace at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on December 5, 2021. (AFP)

Rangnick, taking the reins for the first time, named an unchanged side at Old Trafford after United beat Arsenal 3-2 in midweek and was rewarded with a high-energy performance in the first half, backed by a vocal crowd.

United's levels dipped in the second period but the much-maligned Fred produced a moment of magic 13 minutes from time to snatch a crucial victory.

"I am very happy with the way the team performed, especially the first half hour, with the pressing, it was exceptional," the German told the BBC. "The only thing missing was the 1-0 or 2-0.

"The way we defended, we had control of the whole game, the clean sheet was the most important part.

"These are the things we must improve. We need to keep clean sheets. With just the one training session, I was really impressed. We did much better than expected."

Cristiano Ronaldo had the hosts' best chances in a bright opening spell as Palace struggled to get a foothold but the game remained goalless at half-time.

Rangnick threw on Mason Greenwood and Anthony Elanga for Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford to inject fresh energy into his attack as the second half wore on.

But it was Brazilian midfielder Fred who broke the deadlock, curling home a superb strike past Palace goalkeeper Vicente Guaita from the edge of the area after a pass from Greenwood with 13 minutes to go.

The three points lifts United to sixth place in the table, three points behind fourth-placed West Ham.

Spurs stroll

Spurs are one point ahead of United with a game in hand after cruising to a win against bottom side Norwich -- their third straight victory in the Premier League.

Lucas Moura opened the scoring in the 10th minute. After a nice piece of skill to round a Norwich defender, he played a one-two with Son Heung-min, turned his marker and thundered an unstoppable drive into the top corner from 20 yards.

Tottenham doubled their lead midway through the second half when Davinson Sanchez smashed home a loose ball from a corner.

Son made it 3-0 in the 77th minute with a fine goal as Ben Davies and Oliver Skipp combined before the South Korean fired into the bottom corner.

Conte took over from the sacked Nuno Espirito Santo early last month, with Spurs languishing in mid-table after a poor run of results, and is starting to make an impact.

"I know for Tottenham it will be a season of work, hard work," said Conte. "Only through the work can we improve and to have ambition to improve our position.

"I have just started. We have to build a solid base and a good foundation if we want to try to be competitive in the future and fight for something important."

Brentford were denied a win at Elland Road as Patrick Bamford scored deep into stoppage time to rescue a point for his side in a 2-2 draw.

Tyler Roberts gave Leeds a 27th-minute lead, sliding on to Raphinha's cross from the left to stab the ball home.

Shandon Baptiste equalised for Brentford from the edge of the penalty area in the 54th minute and Sergi Canos put the Londoners ahead seven minutes later.

But Bamford had the last word, poking home from close range in the 95th minute following a corner.

New Aston Villa manager Steven Gerrard pitted his wits against Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers, who was his manager at Liverpool, in the late kick-off.

Manchester City are top of the Premier League after their 3-1 cruise against Watford on Saturday, one point clear of in-form Liverpool and two ahead of Chelsea. (AFP)

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