Harry Kane becoming the leading Premier League scorer of away goals has been hailed an “outstanding achievement” by Tottenham boss Antonio Conte.

The England captain surpassed Wayne Rooney by netting for the 95th time away from home in the English top-flight during Spurs’ 2-0 victory over Brighton and Hove Albion.

After Cristian Romero gave the visitors the lead at the Amex Stadium, Kane sealed the point onto Rodrigo Bentancur’s throughball before slotting past Robert Sanchez.

Despite enduring a slow start to the campaign, the striker took his goal tally to 22 across all competitions, and Conte heaped praise on the 28-year-old.

"It is an outstanding achievement for him, but we are talking about a world-class striker," the head coach said. 

"I am pleased for Harry to score in this way because at the start of the season, he struggled a bit and didn't score a lot and now he knows very well with this team, he has great opportunities to score in every game.

"To have a striker like him makes us stronger but at the same time, his feeling now is positive because he knows he will have chances."

Victory at the Amex moved Tottenham to within three points of fourth-placed Arsenal with 10 games remaining.

And Conte was thrilled by the efforts of his players, who recorded a first away win over Brighton since September 2018.

"I am very pleased for a good performance and because we got three points," the Italian continued.

"It is the final part of the season, and it is vital to get three points. We want to stay very close to the top to see what will happen at the end of the season.

"In my opinion, we are playing very well and improving a lot with the ball and also tonight, we also showed solidity defensively."

Kane added: "I was really pleased to get the goal and help the team win the match. Milestones are great especially away from home. 

"It is always tough, so to know you can do it year-on-year against tough opposition is nice, but it is all about the team and working hard. 

"We got ahead in the game, and then I think we controlled it. Overall, it was a really good night away from home.

"We played good football; we just have to keep winning games."

Tottenham boosted their Premier League top-four hopes with a 2-0 victory over Brighton and Hove Albion at the Amex Stadium.

Goals from Cristian Romero and Harry Kane moved Antonio Conte's side to within three points of fourth-placed Arsenal – although that margin will increase should the Gunners avoid defeat against Liverpool later on Wednesday.

Romero opened his Tottenham account in the 37th minute when he diverted Dejan Kulusevski's effort past Robert Sanchez.

Kane doubled the visitors' lead and sealed the points 12 minutes after the break; becoming the Premier League's all-time leading away scorer as he netted his 95th such goal from 139 appearances.

Aiming to end a run of five successive defeats, Brighton almost gifted their opponents the lead inside five minutes.

After taking a heavy touch way outside his penalty area, Sanchez's attempted clearance was charged down by Kane. Despite having an empty goal to aim at, the England captain could only drag wide from a tight angle.

The visitors enjoyed over 56 per cent of the possession during the first half and eventually made their superiority tell eight minutes before the break.

Following a patient build-up, the well-placed Romero deflected Kulusevski's low first-time shot beyond Sanchez for his maiden Tottenham goal.

Kulusevski was presented with a tremendous opportunity to double the lead as he capitalised on Shane Duffy's loose header soon after, but Sanchez was quickly out to deny the Juventus loanee.

Tottenham did get their second goal following a quickfire counter in the 57th minute. Rodrigo Bentancur's throughball released Kane, who neatly slotted home.

Sanchez prevented Sergio Reguilon from increasing the advantage, but the visitors held on to claim a first win at the Amex Stadium since September 2018.

Harry Kane has broken the record for most Premier League goals scored away from home after netting in Tottenham's clash at Brighton and Hove Albion on Wednesday.

The 28-year-old put Spurs 2-0 up at the Amex Stadium, and in the process moved to 95 goals from 139 away appearances, and ahead of Wayne Rooney's 94 in the competition.

Kane surpassed the former Manchester United and Everton striker's benchmark despite having played in 104 fewer such games in the competition.

The next four from the England captain in the ranking - Rooney, Alan Shearer, Frank Lampard and Andrew Cole - all made over 200 appearances in the EPL.

With the goal, Kane also moved to 12 goals in the Premier League and 22 in all competitions for the year.

Tottenham head coach Antonio Conte insists he would be "crazy" to consider dropping Son Heung-min amid suggestions of fatigue and a drop in form.

Spurs sit eighth in the Premier League ahead of a clash at Brighton and Hove Albion, following a 3-2 defeat at fellow top-four contenders Manchester United that leaves them six points behind fourth-placed Arsenal.

Conte's north London rivals have also played a game less, while Spurs have lost five of their last eight Premier League games (W3) – as many as they had in their previous 20 in the competition (W12 D3).

Son has been on target in his side's last two wins, a 5-0 thrashing of Everton coupled with a 4-0 hammering of Leeds United, yet there remain questions over the South Korea international's form.

Since a four-game scoring run in the league across December, Son has found the net three times in nine top-flight outings – taking his tally 11 goals in 24 games this season, along with five assists.

Those returns are far from underwhelming but Conte was forced to defend his forward at his pre-match news conference after being pressed on Son's fitness levels and performances.

"For me, Sonny is an important player that can change a result at the end of a game." Conte told reporters. "It can happen that a player's form goes from the best to a period that is not so well.

"I repeat, because we are talking about a player that plays in every game. He is playing well, it doesn't depend on if a player scores a goal or not, the performance is the total game.

"Sonny is a player that in my mind fits my ideas, and also with the commitment he shows, he has to start and I don't ever have any idea to drop him – it doesn't happen, I'm not crazy to do something like this."

Conte will be hoping his star duo Harry Kane and Son can combine to down Graham Potter's Brighton in Wednesday's Premier League contest.

The pair have linked up a Premier League record 37 times since Son arrived from Bayer Leverkusen in August 2015, with 20 of those combinations coming on the road in the English top flight.

Whether Son can get in on the act once more at Brighton remains to be seen, but Kane could become the Premier League's all-time leading scorer in away games with a strike at the Amex Stadium – currently sitting on 94 goals in 138 outings.

Antonio Conte wants to see Tottenham stars Harry Kane, Son Heung-min and Hugo Lloris to step up and carry them to a top-four finish.

Kane was on target on Saturday against Manchester United but Spurs fell to a 3-2 defeat at their fellow Champions League contenders, leaving them six points behind fourth-placed Arsenal, who have played a game fewer.

That was Tottenham's fifth loss in eight Premier League games, as many as they had in their previous 20 in the competition (W12 D3), and Conte's side are now outsiders in the top-four race.

Ahead of a clash at Brighton and Hove Albion on Wednesday, Conte called on his captain Lloris and attacking duo Kane and Son to lead the charge for a spot in England's top four.

"If you want to have a hope to fight until the end for this type of target, this is the moment I have to ask a lot to the big players," he said.

"To Harry, Hugo and Sonny. These players have to lead the situation to keep us until the end there.

"At the moment, experience is very important. We don't have a lot of experience in this team and it's right to ask the players with experience and big talent to give everything.

"I think they're giving everything but 100 per cent is not enough. We need to ask 120, 130 per cent to have this type of target.

"It will be very important to have people with great talent to lead us until the end and to try to be very close to reach this target."

If Kane answers Conte's calls to deliver at the Amex Stadium, with another strike he will become the Premier League's all-time highest goalscorer on the road in the competition’s history – currently sitting on 94 goals in 138 away games.

Conte also has a 100 per cent top-flight win record against Brighton, winning both games in 2017-18 with Chelsea, but he expects Graham Potter's side to pose a tough test.

"We're talking about a really good team, a really good team honestly," he said of Brighton. "This team likes to play football, they're strong physically. They're dynamic, they're strong at set-pieces.

"They are having a really good season apart from this last period when they lost [four] games in a row. Otherwise, in the table we were very close.

"We have to know that the game will be very difficult. I have watched the game against Liverpool and in the first half Brighton deserved to score goals and get another result against Liverpool.

"It's important in tough games, as a top team, with the experience you manage these games. Then you bring a difficult game on your side. It happened in the game between Brighton and Liverpool because I thought Brighton played a really good game."

Arsenal host Liverpool the following day and Conte believes that his north London rivals are currently favourites for Champions League qualification.

"I think that in this moment, Arsenal seems favourite for fourth place and United, but don't forget there's also West Ham and don't forget Wolves," Conte added. "They're having a fantastic season and they're in the same position.

"In England it's not easy, it's not simple. When you start the season normally you think it's four top clubs that at the end, these four teams go to the Champions League, United, [Manchester] City, Chelsea, Liverpool.

"But last season Liverpool struggled to reach their place in the Champions League. This season it's happening to United. This league is very difficult.

"For sure we have to be in the group of teams who stay, at this moment, behind.

"You have to stay close in the table because there are 11 games to the end of the season and everything can happen. For sure you have to win. If you don't get three points, you are talking about nothing."

Edinson Cavani's stay at Manchester United seems to be coming to an end.

Signed as a free agent from Paris Saint-Germain in 2020, Cavani has found his game-time limited this season by both injury and managerial preferences, while it has also been claimed recently he has opted out of playing.

He is out of contract at the end of the season and appears determined to find a new club.

 

TOP STORY – CAVANI WANTS LALIGA SWITCH

Fabrizio Romano has reported that Cavani's preference is to join a team in LaLiga.

The 35-year-old, who has scored two Premier League goals this season, has not yet played in LaLiga, having previously starred for Napoli in Serie A before his move to PSG in 2013.

Cavani was previously linked with a move to Atletico Madrid, prior to joining United. Romano also reports that Argentine giants River Plate have approached the Uruguay international, but that potential move does not interest the striker.

ROUND-UP 

- Barcelona want to tie up deals for Ajax full-back Noussair Mazraoui, Chelsea captain Cesar Azpilicueta and Milan's midfield powerhouse Franck Kessie, who are all approaching the end of their contracts, reports Romano.

- The Daily Mail, citing The Mirror, are reporting that United will consider making a move for Tottenham star Harry Kane at the end of the season.

- Aston Villa are one of the clubs monitoring Kalvin Phillips' situation at Leeds United, so say The Daily Mail.

- SPORT claim that Sergino Dest is willing to leave Barca and join Roma.

- According to Gazzetta dello Sport, Juventus and Milan are both keeping tabs on Lille midfielder Renato Sanches.

Tottenham striker Harry Kane insists he is just focusing on the remainder of the season rather than thinking about his future.

Kane came close to leaving his boyhood club last year and was heavily linked with a move to Manchester City, but the Premier League champions were unable to agree a fee with Spurs.

The England captain appeared to have been affected by the saga after scoring just once in his first 15 games in the league this season, but he has rediscovered his form after plundering 10 in 13 top-flight appearances since, including two against City in the recent 3-2 win at the Etihad Stadium.

Kane appears to be happier with life at Spurs since Antonio Conte arrived as head coach in November, but questions around his future will likely resurface should the club fail to qualify for the Champions League again.

Tottenham lost 3-2 at top-four rivals Manchester United on Saturday thanks to a hat-trick from Cristiano Ronaldo, and they sit in eighth place in the Premier League, six points behind fourth-placed Arsenal having played a game more.

Despite a slow start to the campaign, Kane now sits joint-third in the Premier League top-scorer table, level with Ivan Toney and team-mate Son Heung-min on 11 goals, one behind Ronaldo, Sadio Mane and Diogo Jota (12) and nine off current top scorer Mohamed Salah (20).

Kane has an expected goals figure of 12.5 in the league this season, but his shot conversion rate of 12.94 per cent still remains some way behind most others near the top of the scoring charts, including Toney (19.64 per cent) and Son (19.30 per cent).

Ahead of the trip to Brighton and Hove Albion on Wednesday, Kane spoke to Sky Sports and discussed his own form and thoughts on his future.

"I'm the first to look at my own standards," the 28-year-old said. "In the Premier League, towards the first few months or so, I wasn't at the standard that I was always reaching.

"It was no time to panic or sulk, it was a time to work hard and since Antonio's come in, we've had a good understanding with each other. As a player, if you're improving under a coach, that's the most important thing.

"It's when you're there and not sure where you're going and where the club's going and that's the hardest part as a player. I definitely feel like I'm improving, and the team is with Antonio. That motivates you to be even better. Hopefully, we can end the season and give the top four a real go.

"Obviously, it's always an aim to get in the Champions League, for the club. Personally, you want to be in the best competitions in the world. My focus is on this year; getting top four is the most important goal for us now.

"There are 11 games left and if we can get on a run, this is more than possible. That's all I can control and that's all the manager can control as well. Let's see where we end up."

Harry Kane is adamant the Tottenham squad is fully on board with Antonio Conte, of whom they cannot "speak highly enough".

Conte arrived in November following the dismissal of Nuno Espirito Santo, who himself only lasted a few months in the job.

It has not been entirely plain sailing for Spurs since Conte joined, however, with the Italian's famed fiery personality attracting plenty of attention.

That reached its zenith last month when Conte went from hailing his squad as "one of the best groups" he has ever worked with to suggesting he might not be the right man for the job in just three days.

The outburst that brought his future into question came after a shock defeat to Burnley, which was their fourth loss in five league games, leaving Conte frustrated by what he deemed to be more like relegation form than evidence of them being capable of a top-four finish.

He soon apologised and Spurs won their next two league games before slipping to a 3-2 defeat at Manchester United on Saturday, but Kane is convinced the team is fully behind Conte even after a rocky period.

"Obviously I still feel like we're in a process," Kane told Sky Sports. "We went two or three years challenging for trophies then we dropped off over the last couple of years.

"With Antonio, he's building a culture that he wants to be and wants to put us back in that place.

"The Premier League, it's such fine lines between challenging or being top four or being sixth, seventh or eighth. Every team is getting better and there are no easy games.

"Of course, the manager is working as hard as he can, and the players are working.

"It's not a quick fix that happens overnight, it takes time and understanding. He needs to talk to the club and chairman and to see what direction we need to go as a club. We can't speak highly enough of him."

Spurs are back in league action again on Wednesday when they go to Brighton and Hove Albion.

A win will leave them level with sixth-placed West Ham on 48 points, though Spurs will have another game in hand on the Hammers and Man United, two points higher in fifth.

Bruno Fernandes has tested positive for COVID-19 and could miss Manchester United's crucial Champions League home clash with Atletico Madrid.

The playmaker missed Saturday's 3-2 win over Tottenham at Old Trafford, with his absence put down to an undisclosed illness.

Details have now emerged from interim manager Ralf Rangnick, who said Fernandes faced a race against time to be ready for the last-16 second leg on Tuesday.

Luke Shaw could be back from a coronavirus lay-off, while Rangnick is hopeful midfielder Scott McTominay will be able to feature after a calf problem.

Speaking of Fernandes, Rangnick said: "I don't know. With Scotty, I hope so, but he had some muscular problems with his calf. That's why we decided not to play him [against Tottenham], because Scotty, quite like Fred, is only valuable if he can perform with 100 per cent of his physical capacity.

"Luke hopefully will be back in training Monday and Bruno we will have to wait and see until Tuesday. This will probably be a last-minute race with him – due to COVID."

Fernandes has been United's chief creative force in the Champions League this season, with his six assists putting him four ahead of Shaw, who is second on that list at the club. He has also created a team-high 20 chances in the competition, with Cristiano Ronaldo next with nine.

Ronaldo's hat-trick against Tottenham has raised hopes that he can make a telling difference in Europe, too, with United level at 1-1 with Atletico after the first leg in Spain.

Rangnick said of his 37-year-old superstar striker: "He can be a leader with a performance like that. This is what I have been telling him since I arrived, that with this kind of performance he can be one of the engines of the team.

"We have quite a few other players who can do the same, including Fred, Harry [Maguire], Rapha [Raphael Varane], Victor [Lindelof], whoever. Even Edi [Edinson Cavani], when he came on, the last 10 or 15 minutes showed how important and what kind of role he can still play. I wish him to be available until the end of the season."

Rangnick was pleased with Jadon Sancho against Tottenham, with a notable assist for Ronaldo's second goal reflecting the winger's growing influence.

Sancho arrived with a big reputation from Borussia Dortmund last year and the 21-year-old did not immediately make the expected impact, but he is beginning to catch the eye.

"This is what he should be," said Rangnick, quoted on United's official website. "The club paid quite a few pounds for him in order to lure him away from Borussia Dortmund and if you pay that amount of money in a transfer fee for a player, he should perform on this kind of level.

"At the end, they are all human beings. The mere fact he cost a lot of money does not mean that he is playing at that level to start with.

"He told me that of course it was a problem for him to get adjusted to the intensity of the league, to the physicality of the league. Now he has managed to do that. I'm happy to see him play at that kind of level right now."

Cristiano Ronaldo was the only reason Manchester United defeated Tottenham according to Alan Shearer, who stated "God only knows" where the Red Devils would be without the Portugal superstar.

Ronaldo struck the 49th hat-trick of his sensational club career to help see off Antonio Conte's side 3-2 at Old Trafford, moving United into the Premier League's top four ahead of Arsenal's clash with Leicester City on Sunday.

With Harry Kane's penalty and a Harry Maguire own goal twice pegging United back in an absorbing contest, Ronaldo also became the first player to give United the lead three times within a single Premier League clash.

Writing for BBC Sport, Shearer – the Premier League's all-time leading goalscorer – was effusive in his praise for the 37-year-old, labelling his performance "staggering".

"There are some people who think Cristiano Ronaldo is a problem for Manchester United," wrote the Newcastle United great. "But God knows where they would be without him.

"I said a few weeks ago that, if it wasn't for Ronaldo, United would be far worse off than they are, and Saturday's game against Tottenham summed up why in a nutshell.

"He was quite simply the only reason they beat Spurs. His hat-trick was phenomenal and his overall performance was so good, it was staggering.

"This was some response to his critics and all three of his goals were special in their own way. His third goal was my favourite, though. Ronaldo had to get every part of it right, and he did.

"From the way he reads the flight of the cross to the way he attacks it and times his jump, then meets the ball with accuracy and power, it was all absolutely perfect. A textbook header."

Shearer was not, however, impressed with United's overall performance, claiming Ronaldo "got them over the line" after a "terrible" defensive display, and cannot be blamed for their below-par season.

"United have still got a heck of a lot of work to do to get a top-four finish from here, but if they do miss out then there is no way on earth you can pin the blame on Ronaldo," he added.

"They would not be in a position to challenge for the Champions League places if it wasn't for him, so I don't buy that as the reason their results have not always been good enough.

"Their big problem is defensively - they are terrible at times, and we saw that again against Tottenham despite the end result this time.

"Yes, United deserve some credit for the way they responded to what happened to them in the derby last weekend [a 4-1 loss at Manchester City] and this was a huge result for them, but they had no control of the game whatsoever and it was Ronaldo's brilliance that got them over the line."

Ronaldo, who has 12 Premier League goals this term, has now scored in each of his last seven appearances against Tottenham in all competitions, and has netted more career goals against Spurs than he has against any other English side (14).

Cristiano Ronaldo said there are "no limits" for Manchester United after hitting a superb hat-trick to guide the Red Devils to a 3-2 win over Tottenham.

Ronaldo netted his second Premier League treble to boost United's hopes of Champions League qualification, doing so 14 years and 59 days after scoring three in a 6-0 win against Newcastle United, marking the longest gap between a player's first and second hat-tricks in the competition's history.

After his 49th career hat-trick, the Portuguese legend has also scored a treble in each of the last 13 seasons of his club career, a run which stretches back to the 2009-10 campaign.

The Old Trafford victory lifted United into the Premier League's top four, albeit having played four games more than fifth-placed Arsenal, and Ronaldo said he was "tremendously happy" with his performance in a social media post.

"Tremendously happy with my first hat-trick since I came back to Old Trafford!" the 37-year wrote on Instagram.

"Nothing beats the feeling of being back on the pitch and help the team with goals and effort. 

"We've proven once again that we can beat any team in any given day, as long as we work hard and stand together as one.

"There are no limits for Man United! No matter what! Let's go, Devils!"

Despite United's struggles this term, the former Real Madrid and Juventus star has hit 12 league goals since returning to the club last summer, placing him top of their goalscoring charts.

However, interim manager Ralf Rangnick joked that his top goalscorer should always prepare in that fashion after his superb showing, also praising his work ethic in training.

"We were just joking a little bit," Rangnick laughed. "Maybe it makes sense to send him to Portugal for three days, then have him not train for two days, then have him back in training on Thursday!

"By the way, he performed on a similar kind of level on Thursday in training, that's why I decided after that training session, although he had been out from a week, to play him from the start. 

"Maybe we have to do that for the rest of the season."

United became the first team to hit 400 Premier League home wins after beating Spurs, against whom they have enjoyed 23 Old Trafford victories in the competition. No side has beaten another opponent more often at home in the league's history.

Paul Pogba believes Cristiano Ronaldo's return to form was just what Manchester United needed after the Portuguese star hit a hat-trick in the Red Devils' 3-2 win over Tottenham on Saturday.

Having been left out of the squad for their 4-1 drubbing at Manchester City last week, Ronaldo returned with vigour and got United off the mark on 12 minutes with a trademark strike from distance.

The 37-year-old provided timely goals for Ralf Rangnick's side, which was in need of a response as much as points. The Old Trafford crowd fed off it, which was something Pogba acknowledged afterwards.

"Ronaldo was brilliant. I think that's all we needed - a reaction," the France international told Sky Sports. "We scored beautiful goals. Even when we conceded a goal, we came back and scored again. The mentality was there again today.

"Everybody knows Cristiano - there's no need to talk about him. That's what he does. He didn't play in the last game, but he comes back and scores three goals. Everybody's happy.

"It was good today. You can hear the fans. They were pushing us and feeling it. I think today was a very good performance as a team and a very good reaction from the City game.”

Despite Ronaldo's hat-trick, it was nevertheless a volatile 90 minutes from United, with Tottenham managing to draw level twice via Harry Kane from the penalty spot and a Harry Maguire own goal.

According to Pogba though, United's mentality was definitive, especially in context of the Premier League's top four race.

"We kept believing. In the second half, we didn't get the nice passing, and the movement I think wasn't there," he said.

"We gave them a bit of confidence, that's why they scored. But we got a corner and scored the winning goal.

"It's a boost. We needed it to go again. We want the top four and they were opponents who are looking for the top four also. It was a good win and a good performance."

The win puts United in fourth spot on 50 points, two points clear of Arsenal, who have four games in hand on them.

Antonio Conte hinted Cristiano Ronaldo was the only thing separating Manchester United from a poor result after his hat-trick in a 3-2 win over Tottenham.

The Portugal star gave United the lead three times at Old Trafford on Saturday, his 81st-minute header ultimately deciding what could prove to be a key contest in the race for the Premier League top four.

The Spurs head coach lavished praise on Ronaldo and said his legendary status in football is unquestionable.

In customary Conte fashion, however, his compliments for the 37-year-old individually were laced with reproval for United collectively.

"We are talking about a player that not only this night showed to be a top, top player. Don't forget Cristiano and [Lionel] Messi are the best two players in the world in this era. Before it was [Diego] Maradona and then Pele," Conte told Sky Sports after the match.

"You know very well that when you play against this type of player, they are decisive. I think honestly that without Cristiano Ronaldo tonight for United it wasn't a good night.

"It's a difficult stadium, a difficult atmosphere and I guess a strong team like United, I think we didn't deserve to lose the game. We have to understand where we can improve."

Ronaldo got the Red Devils off the mark on 12 minutes, with a trademark screamer from outside the penalty area as the Tottenham defence backed off.

Conte's side equalised through a Harry Kane penalty and, after Ronaldo struck again from Jadon Sancho's cross, they levelled for a second time through Harry Maguire's own goal.

Ronaldo was eventually on hand to provide the winner, though, heading in from an Alex Telles corner as Conte bemoaned Spurs' inability to manage the game.

"I think we played a good game, but at the same time I think we needed to show more experience to manage some situations," he said.

"The experience you don't buy. You improve your experience after these types of games. We have many young players in the team and hopefully after this game they have the possibility to learn.

"We have to continue to work in many aspects and improve our level if we want to reach the level where we fight for a top place and for sure we have to improve."

Cristiano Ronaldo has spent so much of his career rewriting the history books that a hat-trick against Tottenham on Saturday was just another reminder of his "genius".

Genius was the word used by Roy Keane after Saturday evening's treble at Old Trafford secured a 3-2 win that could yet be a major lift for a United side who still face a tall order to finish in the Premier League top four.

Arsenal, two points behind fourth-placed United with four games in hand, remain favourites for that slot, but Ronaldo's performance against Spurs was a signal the Red Devils could still force their way into those positions at the season's end.

Keane said on Sky Sports after the final whistle: "Scoring goals is the hardest part of the game. To score that many goals at the highest level - international goals, big games in the Champions League... today obviously it was Spurs. What more can you say? The guy's a genius."

There is a theory that Ronaldo is now the world's all-time record goalscorer, overtaking Josef Bican, an Austrian-Czech striker who was prolific in the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s.

Official records from that time can be difficult to ratify, and Czech FA experts have previously put Bican's figure at 821 goals rather than the often-stated figure of 805.

Nevertheless, there is much that can be stated with conviction, and Opta data outlines just what a performance this was from Ronaldo.

– He has now scored a hat-trick in each of his last 13 seasons, and this was his 49th club career hat-trick.

– Having spent nine years at Real Madrid, and then three with Juventus, Ronaldo has reacquainted himself with the English game this season. It had been 14 years and 59 days since he scored what was his only previous Premier League hat-trick, against Newcastle United, making it the longest such gap in the competition's history.

– Teddy Sheringham is the only player to have scored a Premier League treble later in life. Sheringham was 37 years and 146 days old when he scored three for Portsmouth against Bolton Wanderers in August 2003. Ronaldo was 37 years and 35 days, so to break Sheringham's record he will have to remain in the Premier League next season.

– Tottenham boss Antonio Conte was quick to praise Ronaldo after the final whistle, and it was little wonder; Ronaldo became only the second player to score a top-flight hat-trick against a team managed by the Italian, following in the footsteps of Giuseppe Rossi in October 2013 for Fiorentina against Juventus. Rossi, coincidentally, was a United player for a large part of Ronaldo's previous spell at Old Trafford.

– Ronaldo has scored in each of his last seven appearances against Tottenham in all competitions. Indeed, he has netted more goals against Spurs than he has against any other English side in his career (14).

– At 2-2, there was a threat to United's astonishing run of 301 Premier League games without defeat when they have held a half-time lead at Old Trafford. Ronaldo's intervention staved that off emphatically.

– United have now won exactly 400 Premier League home games, becoming the first team to reach that milestone. Some 23 of those wins have been against Tottenham, which is more than any side has beaten another at home in the Premier League.

– Ronaldo is now the joint-second top scorer in the Premier League this season with 12 goals, albeit he is a distant eight behind runaway leader Mohamed Salah of Liverpool.

Ralf Rangnick admitted it is "a challenge" to manage Cristiano Ronaldo after he savoured the Manchester United striker's hat-trick in Saturday's 3-2 win against Tottenham.

Ronaldo gave United the lead on three occasions, and they eventually managed to cling on after a thumping header from the 37-year-old in the 81st minute again tilted the game the way of the hosts.

He struck an opener from 25 yards, sprinted to get on the end of Jadon Sancho's cross for his second, and delivered a performance that left Ronaldo's admirers purring in appreciation.

The five-time Ballon d'Or winner was imperious, but it has not always been that way during his first season back at Old Trafford.

Before this game, Ronaldo had just one Premier League goal in 2022, and there have been questions raised about whether he will remain a United player next season.

Rangnick was asked about what it takes to manage such a superstar figure, who reached 807 career goals on the way to sinking Antonio Conte's visitors, who twice equalised through a Harry Kane penalty and Harry Maguire own goal.

"It is challenging, and it is a challenge with a player like him," the United interim manager told Sky Sports. "But he showed today that he's still got the quality to play for a club like Manchester United.

"But he's also a part of the team and if we want to be successful at the end of the season, we can only do it together."

Ronaldo missed the Manchester derby last week with a hip flexor injury. Former United captain Roy Keane was among those who asked whether there was perhaps more behind Ronaldo being sidelined for that game, a suspicion Rangnick has denied.

The German was floored by how good Ronaldo was against Tottenham, a real throwback to his peak years at Real Madrid.

"At least since I arrived, his best performance," Rangnick said. "Not only because he scored three goals, two brilliant goals... he was also energetically good.

"He was part of the whole team when we had to defend, and we had to defend a lot. Top performance by him, but also by the rest of the team."

There is a theory that Ronaldo is now the world's all-time record scorer, overtaking Josef Bican, an Austrian-Czech who was prolific in the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s.

Official records from that time can be difficult to ratify, and Czech FA experts have previously put Bican's figure at 821 goals rather than the often-stated figure of 805.

Rangnick is more concerned with what Ronaldo is achieving in the present day.

"I didn't expect him to score three goals, but I expected him to score, that's why I decided to play him even though he only resumed training on Thursday," Rangnick said.

"His training session on Thursday was so good, that's why I [decided to] bring him from the start and not have him on the bench, and in the end, it was the right decision.

"He didn't train for a week, and I wasn't sure if his hip flexor was good enough to let him play.

"I had a conversation with him before the training session on Friday, and he told me that he's fully fit and he can play, and that's why he started."

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