Cristiano Ronaldo suffered his first Saudi Pro League defeat on Thursday as Al Ittihad claimed a 1-0 win to replace Al Nassr at the top of the table.

Al Nassr had not lost any of their five league games since Ronaldo's debut on February 3, drawing his first match before racking up four successive wins.

But that run came to an end against their title rivals at the King Abdullah Sports City in Jeddah.

Romarinho got the only goal of the game in the 80th minute, rounding off a devastating counter-attack.

The forward brilliantly brought down Ahmed Sharahili's right-wing delivery on the edge of the box, his first touch taking a defender out of the game before a cool finish sparked jubilant celebrations.

Al Nassr coach Rudi Garcia tried to focus on the positives, however.

"We are disappointed because we did not deserve to lose," he said

"Al Ittihad scored a goal the way they like, on the counter-attack. The league is still long. We are now behind Al Ittihad by a point.

"I am happy with my team. We played in a difficult stadium in front of a strong audience, and yet we played with a wonderful personality."

 

Marcus Thuram will leave Borussia Moenchengladbach at the end of this season when his contract expires.

As a result, the 25-year-old French forward is garnering plenty of interest from top European clubs.

Thuram has scored 14 goals in all competitions this season for Gladbach, having been part of France's 2022 World Cup squad.

 

TOP STORY – THURAM OFFERED TO BARCELONA

Marcus Thuram's agent has offered the French forward to Barcelona as an off-season signing, according to Mundo Deportivo.

Thuram has interest from Chelsea, Manchester United, Paris Saint-Germain, Atletico Madrid and Inter.

Barcelona's economic challenges mean they have prioritised signing players on free transfers in recent times with Thuram offering that plus flexibility in attack.

 

ROUND-UP

– Fichajes claims Cristiano Ronaldo wants Sergio Ramos to join him at Saudi Arabian club Al Nassr, with the defender's contract with PSG to expire at the end of this season. Ramos will leave it late to make a decision, holding out hope for a PSG extension.

Liverpool will battle Bayern Munich in the off-season for the signature of Juventus striker Dusan Vlahovic, reports Calciomercatoweb.

Barcelona, Real Madrid and Chelsea are all interested in Inter's Marcelo Brozovic, with the Serie A club open to selling him, according to La Gazzetta dello Sport.

Manchester United are weighing up a move for Bayer Leverkusen right-back Jeremie Frimpong, reports Football Insider. Fabrizio Romano claims numerous top clubs are interested in the Dutch defender.

– La Gazzetta dello Sport claims Liverpool are tracking Inter's Nicolo Barella as they look to bolster their midfield options.

West Ham, Fulham, Crystal Palace and Brentford are all circling for Milan forward Olivier Giroud,  who is open to a return to England, claims The Sun.

Cristiano Ronaldo outclassed another Saudi Pro League defence as his second hat-trick in three games earned Al Nassr a 3-0 win over Damak on Saturday.

The former Real Madrid and Manchester United forward had his treble by half-time, following up his four-goal haul two weeks previously against Al Wehda.

Ronaldo's first against Damak was an 18th-minute penalty, awarded after a handball by Farouk Chafai, while his second was a fierce left-footed strike from 20 yards five minutes later as defenders stood off.

The hat-trick was sealed in the 44th minute after a fast break out of defence, with Abdulrahman Ghareeb driving down the left before feeding a pass through to Ayman Yahya.

Yahya might have shot but elected to lay the ball off for 38-year-old Ronaldo to smash home from 10 yards.

Ronaldo hit 44 hat-tricks in his legendary Madrid career, becoming the Spanish giants' record scorer, while he also netted three across two spells with United, and added three trebles during a three-year stint at Juventus.

Liverpool midfielder Stefan Bajcetic has reportedly caught the attention of LaLiga powerhouses Real Madrid and Barcelona.

Bajcetic, 18, scored his first Premier League goal in a short substitute appearance against Aston Villa on Boxing Day, and after impressing in a pair of January FA Cup starts, he forced his way into the first team.

He has started their past four Premier League fixtures as well as Tuesday's Champions League Final rematch against Madrid, indicating a rapid rise in the eyes of Jurgen Klopp.

The Spaniard left Celta Vigo in 2020 to head to the Premier League, but his home country could soon come calling to bring him back.

 

TOP STORY – LIVERPOOL TEEN CAPTURES IMAGINATION OF EUROPE'S ELITE

According to Fichajes, both Barcelona and Madrid "have been closely following his evolution", and they believe Bajcetic possesses the qualities necessary to perform at the highest level.

Barcelona reportedly view him as "an ideal piece to form a future midfield with Pedri and Gavi", while Madrid would like him to be the successor to ageing veterans Luka Modric and Toni Kroos.

His contract ties him to Anfield until 2027, but the Spanish giants could try to test his transfer value as soon as this off-season.

 

ROUND-UP

– The Daily Mail is reporting Aston Villa will listen to offers for 30-year-old goalkeeper and World Cup hero Emiliano Martinez after the season with the hope that a significant transfer fee could fund a mini-rebuild.

– Leicester City will look to sell James Maddison at the end of the season if they can not convince him to sign a new contract, with Manchester City, Newcastle United and Tottenham named as interested parties, per Football Insider.

– According to The Telegraph, 31-year-old midfielder N'Golo Kante will sign a new contract to remain at Chelsea.

– Gazzetta dello Sport is reporting Inter will look to move on from wing-backs Denzel Dumfries and Robin Gosens at the end of the season, with Dumfries a potential piece in a swap deal for Chelsea loanee Romelu Lukaku.

– According to the Evening Standard, Saudi Arabian clubs – including Cristiano Ronaldo's Al Nassr – are circling 30-year-old Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha with the belief he would be open to a Middle East move for the right price.

Cristiano Ronaldo failed to score in his first appearance in the Saudi Pro League but led Al Nassr back to the top of the table.

Following a suspension, Ronaldo made his Al Nassr debut on Sunday against Al Ittifaq, captaining his new side.

The first match of his highly lucrative contract in Saudi Arabia ended in a 1-0 victory, but Ronaldo was not the goal hero.

Talisca, the Brazilian former Benfica and Besiktas forward, headed the only goal before celebrating with the new boy.

Ronaldo appeared to be sporting a black eye, having received a blow to the face in a challenge with Keylor Navas during this week's exhibition between a Riyadh All-Stars team and Paris Saint-Germain.

Victory in Ronaldo's bow ensured Al Nassr finished the weekend ahead of Al Hilal, having been briefly knocked off top spot by their rivals earlier on Sunday.

A staple of the European game for the best part of two decades, seeing Cristiano Ronaldo make his Al Nassr bow in Saudi Arabia will undoubtedly be strange for many.

His move was completed in December following widespread reports linking him with a Saudi switch ever since he and Manchester United parted ways the previous month.

Ronaldo featured in a kind of Saudi all-star XI match against Paris Saint-Germain during the week but will make his official Al Nassr debut on Sunday to essentially bring the curtain down on one of the greatest careers in the history of European football.

While writing off Ronaldo is always unwise, a combination of the striker's age and the unsavoury nature of his second spell at United make a return to elite European football seem improbable.

Nevertheless, as a five-time Champions League winner and the top scorer in the history of European football's premier club competition, Ronaldo's legacy as one of the all-time greats is secure.

But with seven top-flight league titles and a plethora of other trophies to his name, Ronaldo's impact on the continental game went beyond his goals on the grandest club stage.

Ahead of Al Nassr's clash with Al Ittifaq, Stats Perform looks back on his seismic impact in European club football.

Ronaldo's Premier League emergence

Ronaldo's return to the Premier League may not have gone to plan – the 37-year-old only scored once in the competition this term before an explosive interview with Piers Morgan led to his Old Trafford exit.

However, the three-time Premier League winner certainly made his mark in England, scoring 103 goals in 236 top-flight games for United.

Having burst onto the scene as a tricky winger, Ronaldo recorded 37 assists in the competition for the Red Devils, who he also helped to their third European title in 2008.

He also claimed his first Ballon d'Or while in Manchester in 2008 after scoring 31 goals in their title-winning 2007-08 campaign – that single-season tally has only been bettered by three players in the competition's history.

Making history with Madrid in LaLiga

Given the way his United spell ended, it remains to be seen whether Ronaldo will be remembered as an Old Trafford legend or not. But there's no doubt about his legacy at Real Madrid, where he really made his name as one of football's greatest as he became Los Blancos' top scorer with 450 goals in all competitions.

Incredibly, the Portugal forward averaged over a goal per game throughout his trophy-laden spell in Spain, hitting the net 311 times in 292 appearances in LaLiga.

Ronaldo scored with 16 per cent of his shots for Madrid, a higher percentage than he managed in the Premier League, Serie A or the Champions League. 

Madrid may be famed for their Champions League accomplishments, but Ronaldo also helped them to two domestic title triumphs in 2011-12 and 2016-17, netting 46 times as Jose Mourinho's side earned 100 points in the first of those campaigns.

Serie A success with the Bianconeri

Given Juventus' failure to win the Champions League, few consider Ronaldo's time in Turin to be an unmitigated success. The raw numbers, however, suggest otherwise.

Managing 81 goals in 98 league appearances for a club in perpetual crisis – with a conversion rate of 15 per cent – tells the story of how Ronaldo evolved in Serie A, honing his game as the ultimate penalty-box forward in his advancing years.

Despite a tumultuous period that saw Maurizio Sarri replace Massimiliano Allegri, Juventus stretched their incredible run of Scudetto success to nine consecutive seasons.

That stint ended in Ronaldo's final full campaign at the Allianz Stadium, though he still finished as Serie A's top scorer with 29 goals. 

The Champions League master

For those who believe Ronaldo to be the greatest to have played the game, the Portugal forward's exploits in the Champions League are always the crucial factor.

Ronaldo's record of 140 goals in the competition is unmatched, though his great rival Lionel Messi (129) may have something to say about that if he declines to follow his fellow forward's lead in exiting Europe.

Averaging almost a goal contribution per game (180 in 183 appearances), Ronaldo won an astonishing 115 games in the Champions League, lifting the trophy five times – a joint-high tally.

As Madrid cemented their status as European masters by winning three consecutive titles between the 2015-16 and 2017-18 seasons, Ronaldo top-scored in the competition every season, consolidating his legacy as the ultimate big-game player.

Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice yet Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe helped Paris Saint-Germain defeat Riyadh All-Stars 5-4 in a thrilling friendly.

The exhibition at King Fahd International Stadium on Thursday saw 21 shots on target, nine goals, a red card for Juan Bernat and a penalty miss from Neymar.

Having had his debut for new club Al Nassr delayed due to a domestic ban carried over from his time at Manchester United, Ronaldo's first game since moving to Saudi Arabia came for a hybrid XI that also contained players from Al Hilal.

It set up a reunion with long-time rival and fellow multiple Ballon d'Or winner Lionel Messi in what was their first meeting on the pitch of any sort since Juventus beat Barcelona 3-0 in the Champions League group stage in 2020.

Messi came out on top in terms of scoreline in this 37th encounter between the pair, with PSG pulling away in a game that the hosts levelled on three occasions, but Ronaldo outscored the 2022 World Cup winner.

Neymar, Mbappe and Messi all combined for the latter to open the scoring inside the opening three minutes, but Ronaldo equalised from a penalty he himself won after being caught in the face by Keylor Navas.

PSG lost Bernat to a straight red card for his last-man challenge just inside the opposition half, though they were soon back in front through a close-range Marquinhos finish from Mbappe's assist.

Neymar missed the chance to extend PSG's lead when having a tame penalty saved, and that proved costly when Ronaldo glanced in a trademark header on the stroke of half-time.

PSG still could not shake off their opponents after Sergio Ramos' strike, teed up by Mbappe, was cancelled out by Jang Hyun-soo's header less than three minutes later.

Mbappe capped an impressive display with a goal of his own from the penalty spot on the hour mark. He was then subbed off, along with Messi, Neymar and Ronaldo.

The tempo of the game dropped from that point but the entertainment continued until full-time as Anderson Talisca pulled back a late goal after Hugo Ekitike had seemingly put PSG out of sight, though the Riyadh All-Stars could not equalise for a fifth time.

Cristiano Ronaldo will still have the chance to represent Portugal after new head coach Roberto Martinez left the door open for him to compete for the national side.

A move to Al Nassr for Ronaldo after the World Cup came after a turbulent period for the 37-year-old saw him released by Manchester United and then dropped by Fernando Santos during Portugal's campaign in Qatar.

Now in Saudi Arabia, it has not been clear whether the 196-cap forward's time on the international stage would end at the start of a new era under Martinez.

However, speaking at his unveiling on Monday, the former Belgium boss confirmed he will talk to Ronaldo, and other players, before making decisions on the squad.

"Decisions have to be made on the pitch. I won't rush into decisions. I want to meet everyone, and from today I want to talk and meet all the players," he said at a press conference.

"Cristiano is part of that list. He's had 19 years in the national team and deserves respect, let's talk. From there, it's up to me to make the best list for the European Championships.

"Tomorrow we will start working to meet all the players, and Cristiano is one of them.

"We will start a football process to try to get to know all the players who will be able to join this team. We will give a chance to all players and respect all who are already in the team.

"I'm delighted to have them by my side. It's a process that we have to face naturally, responsibly, and we're going to make important decisions for the team."

Portugal begin their qualification campaign for Euro 2024 in March against Liechtenstein and Luxembourg.

Cristiano Ronaldo joining Al Nassr will have a similar impact as Pele's move to New York Cosmos nearly 50 years ago, according to the Saudi club's head coach Rudi Garcia.

Five-time Ballon d'Or winner Ronaldo has signed a two-and-a-half-year contract, thought to be one of the most lucrative in football history, following his Manchester United exit.

The Portugal international has yet to make his debut due to a domestic suspension carried over from his time at United, but his impact is already being felt off the pitch.

And in the view of Garcia, the transfer is comparable to the late Pele's move to American club Cosmos in 1975 following a legendary spell with Santos.

"It's a bit like Pele's arrival, especially for the development of football, sport and culture in Saudi Arabia," Garcia was quoted as saying by L'Equipe.

"Cristiano Ronaldo is more than a player. He is one of the best players in the world.

"It's amazing how much it’s put a spotlight on our club. Now everyone knows where our club is around the world.

"We must have gone from 800,000 [Twitter followers] to 10 million in a few hours, or a few days, because of Cristiano's arrival."

Ronaldo missed Friday's 2-0 win over Al Tai and will also sit out Saturday's trip to Al Shabab due to a ban imposed for knocking a phone out of an Everton fan's hand last April.

He is eligible to make his Al Nassr debut against Al Ettifaq on January 22, but Garcia has confirmed Ronaldo may first feature in a prestige friendly against Paris Saint-Germain.

That could mean a clash between Ronaldo and Lionel Messi as PSG take on a Saudi All-Star XI made up of players from Al Nassr and Al Hilal, but Garcia is not entirely happy.

"His debut won't be with the Al Nassr jersey. It will be a mix between Al Hilal and Al Nassr," Garcia said.

"As the coach of Al Nassr, I cannot be pleased with this match. For development, to see PSG, to see the great Parisian players, indeed it is a good thing. 

"But we have a championship game three days later. In terms of scheduling, it could have been better thought out. But it's not a big deal. 

"We are in the lead, we are happy. It is a difficult championship to win, but we intend to do it."

Ronaldo struggled for playing time prior to his United exit and then lost his place in Portugal's starting line-up in their disappointing World Cup campaign.

Asked what he hopes to see from the 37-year-old when he belatedly makes his debut, Garcia said: "If he finds the pleasure of playing again, that will already be a goal achieved."

Cristiano Ronaldo's new club Al Nassr were forced to call off Thursday's Saudi Pro League match with Al Tai due to bad weather impacting the stadium's electricity supply.

Five-time Ballon d'Or winner Ronaldo was unveiled by Al Nassr on Tuesday after signing a huge-money two-and-a-half-year deal with the Saudi Arabian club.

Due to a two-match domestic ban carried over from his time with former side Manchester United, Ronaldo was not expected to make his debut against Al Tai.

However, there had been suggestions in the build-up to the contest that Al Nassr were looking at ways to circumnavigate the suspension to allow Ronaldo to play.

Those who gathered at King Saud University Stadium were left disappointed either way, though, as the contest was postponed for 24 hours.

A statement on the club's official account confirmed the news a little over two hours before kick-off at 6pm local time.

"Due to heavy rain and weather conditions impacting the stadium’s electricity, we've been informed tonight's match against Al Tai is postponed for 24 hours," the statement read.

"We apologise for any inconvenience caused to fans and wish everyone safe travels."

Al Nassr follow up Friday's rearranged match against Al Tai with a trip to Al Shabab next week, before facing Al Ettifaq on January 21 for what is expected to be Ronaldo's debut.

Cristiano Ronaldo should use his "considerable platform" to "draw attention" to human rights issues in Saudi Arabia after signing for Al Nassr, says Amnesty International.

Ronaldo signed a two-and-a-half-year deal with Saudi Pro League leaders Al Nassr last week after his Manchester United contract was mutually terminated in November following a controversial interview with Piers Morgan.

The five-time Ballon d'Or winner was unveiled in Riyadh on Tuesday, stating he hoped to positively change the perceptions of Saudi Arabian football.

But Amnesty International, a global organisation that campaigns against human rights abuse, is hoping he uses his huge celebrity status to highlight off-field matters in Saudi Arabia.

In a statement, Amnesty International's Middle East researcher Dana Ahmed said: "Al-Nassr's signing of Cristiano Ronaldo fits into a wider pattern of sportswashing in Saudi Arabia.

"It is highly likely that the Saudi authorities will promote Ronaldo's presence in the country as a means of distracting from the country's appalling human rights record. 

"Instead of offering uncritical praise of Saudi Arabia, Ronaldo should use his considerable public platform to draw attention to human rights issues in the country.

"Saudi Arabia regularly executes people for crimes including murder, rape and drug smuggling.

"The authorities are also continuing their crackdown on freedom of expression and association, with heavy prison sentences handed down to human rights defenders, women's rights activists and other political activists.

"Cristiano Ronaldo shouldn't allow his fame and celebrity status to become a tool of Saudi sportswashing – he should use his time at Al-Nassr to speak out about the myriad human rights issues in the country."

Cristiano Ronaldo does not have a clause in his Al Nassr contract that would allow him to join Newcastle United if they qualify for the Champions League, Eddie Howe has said.

Five-time Ballon d'Or winner Ronaldo was unveiled by Saudi Arabian club Al Nassr on Tuesday after signing a two-and-a-half-year deal following his Manchester United exit.

According to reports on Monday, the Portugal forward asked to be allowed to return to the Premier League with Saudi-backed Newcastle if they finished in the top four this term.

However, speaking ahead of Newcastle's clash with Arsenal, Newcastle head coach Howe denied that is the case.

"We wish Cristiano all the best in his venture, but from our point of view there's no truth in that," Howe told Sky Sports.

Ronaldo is the Champions League's all-time record scorer with 140 goals and has won the competition once with United and four times for Real Madrid.

Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday, Ronaldo effectively confirmed he will not join another European club before retiring.

"In Europe, my work is done. I won everything and played for the most important clubs in Europe," he said.

"This is a great opportunity for me [at Al Nassr], not only in football but to change the mentality of the new generation in Saudi Arabia. 

"I had many opportunities in Europe, Brazil, the United States and even Portugal, but I gave my word to this club, for the opportunity to develop football in this amazing country."

Ronaldo, who has also previously played for Sporting CP and Juventus, could make his Al Nassr debut against Al Tai on Thursday.

Cristiano Ronaldo vowed to change the rest of the world's perception of football in Saudi Arabia as he was formally unveiled as an Al Nassr player.

Ronaldo signed a two-and-a-half-year contract with Saudi Pro League leaders Al Nassr last week, having spent over a month as a free agent after leaving Manchester United.

At his unveiling in Riyadh on Tuesday, Ronaldo declared he had nothing left to prove in Europe and insisted the move did not represent the end of his distinguished career.

The five-time Ballon d'Or winner may well have appeared in the Champions League for the final time, but he claims to have a fresh set of aims in Saudi Arabia – including contributing to the development of women's football in the country.

"It's a new challenge and I'm so glad that Al Nassr has given me this opportunity to develop, not only in football, but also for the young generations, and for women as well," said Ronaldo.

"Many people probably don't know, but Al Nassr has a women's football team as well. Women's football is very competitive here.

"I know what I want, and I know, of course, what I don't want as well. It's a good chance to change, to help with my knowledge and my experience to grow many, many important things.

"I want to give a different vision of the country from the footballing perspective of everybody. This is why I took this opportunity."

While Ronaldo – who could make his Al Nassr debut against Al Ta'ee on Thursday – will undoubtedly be the most high-profile star to have featured in the Saudi Pro League, club president Musalli Al-Muammar insists he will be treated differently to other players.

"During the negotiations, Cristiano made it clear that he wants to be treated like the rest of our players," he said. "He doesn't want special treatment.

"Ronaldo is the greatest player ever. We hope players learn from him and replicate his attitude."

Head coach Rudi Garcia, meanwhile, is not expecting any issues as he integrates Ronaldo into his squad. 

"Ronaldo is one of the best ever. It's an honour for me and for Al Nassr to have him here," Garcia said.

"It's fantastic for the league and for the country to have Ronaldo here. 

"He will be the easiest player to train. There's nothing to teach him. My goal is to make Ronaldo happy."

Cristiano Ronaldo is unfazed by criticism of his decision to join Saudi Pro League side Al Nassr, declaring that his "work is done" in Europe.

Having seen his Manchester United contract terminated in November after criticising the club in an inflammatory interview with Piers Morgan, Ronaldo sealed his move to Al Nassr last week.

His decision to join the Riyadh-based side has surprised many, with it coming just a few months after Ronaldo attempted to leave United in search of Champions League football.

However, the 37-year-old believes he has nothing left to prove in European football, claiming he turned down proposals from several clubs to sign his two-and-a-half-year deal with Al Nassr.

"I'm so proud to make this big decision in my life and in football," Ronaldo said at his unveiling on Tuesday. 

"In Europe, my work is done. I won everything and played for the most important clubs in Europe. 

"This is a great opportunity for me, not only in football but to change the mentality of the new generation in Saudi Arabia. 

"I had many opportunities in Europe, in Brazil, in the United States and even in Portugal, but I gave my word to this club, for the opportunity to develop football in this amazing country."

Ronaldo's conduct during his second stint at United was widely criticised, while he was relegated to the role of substitute for Portugal's two knockout games at the World Cup.

However, the forward sees playing in the Saudi Pro League as a genuine challenge, hitting back at those who have questioned the motives behind his move.

"Many people speak and give their opinions, but really they know nothing about football," Ronaldo said.

"If you give the example of the World Cup, the only team who beat the champions [Argentina] was Saudi Arabia, don't forget that.

"For me, it's not the end of my career. I wanted to change and I don't worry about what people say. I took my decision and I have responsibility for it.

"I'm happy to be here and I know the league is really competitive, I saw many games. I'm ready to play tomorrow [against Al Ta'ee] if the coach thinks it's good! 

"I beat all records in Europe, so I want to beat all records here. This contract is unique, because I'm a unique player. So for me, this is normal.

"I'm coming here to win, to play, to enjoy, to be part of the success of the country and the culture of the country. What I want is to enjoy, to smile and to play football."

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag was not interested in revisiting the drama around Cristiano Ronaldo after the striker completed his move to Al Nassr.

The 37-year-old left United in November when the two parties agreed to terminate his contract following a very public disintegration in their relationship that began at the end of last season.

Ronaldo did not go on United's pre-season tour owing to personal reasons, a situation accompanied by widespread reports of the Portugal great wanting to leave.

When Ronaldo did eventually report to pre-season training, he and several team-mates left Old Trafford before the end of the friendly with Rayo Vallecano, conduct Ten Hag described as "unacceptable" from all involved.

Ronaldo was then dropped from the squad entirely for the October clash with Chelsea after he refused to come on as a late substitute against Tottenham, but the final straw came a few weeks later when he took part in a remarkable interview with Piers Morgan, taking the opportunity to publicly criticise the club and Ten Hag.

That unsurprisingly led to his contract termination and Ronaldo finally signed a reported two-and-a-half-year deal with Saudi Arabia's Al Nassr on Friday, but Ten Hag simply refused to talk about his former player after Saturday's 1-0 win over Wolves.

"I don't talk about the past, let's talk about the future," Ten Hag told reporters.

"We made a good step today. First time we are in the top four, but it means nothing because it is a long way to go.

"We have to live from game to game, get in the position to win something."

Ronaldo may have been the first to draw the wrath of Ten Hag at United this season, though he was certainly not the last.

Marcus Rashford found himself benched for the trip to Molineux after missing the start of a team meeting due to oversleeping.

The England forward came on for the second half and scored United's winning goal, with the narrative ultimately reflecting quite well on both Ten Hag and Rashford, the former for his decisive leadership, and the latter for his response.

United defender Luke Shaw was keen to salute the manager's commitment to discipline, suggesting it was a departure from some of his predecessors.

"At a top club like this, it has to be like that," he told BT Sport. "I think that people can't do whatever they want and maybe that's been part of the problem in the past, with people getting away with silly little things.

"The manager takes all of that into consideration. Like you've seen today, if you're not keeping the standards high then you won't play."

United's victory ensured they will end 2022 fourth in the Premier League, just two points behind Newcastle United, after climbing above Tottenham.

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