On a night when their city rivals were destroying the Portuguese Champions 5-0 in the Champions League, Manchester United’s two Portuguese stars helped the club take a step towards ensuring that they are playing in the competition next season.
Cristiano Ronaldo ended his six-game goal drought in sensational style as Manchester United beat 10-man Brighton at Old Trafford to move back into the Premier League’s top-four.
Bruno Fernandes added a second as United broke from deep inside their own half in the final minute of injury-time.
After an uninspiring first-half, Ronaldo scored a sensational opener six minutes into the second half. Ronaldo collected Scott McTominay’s pass before edging right of the Brighton defence and, with barely any backlift, sent a low shot curling beyond a static Robert Sanchez.
Three minutes later, Brighton skipper Lewis Dunk was sent off after VAR sent referee Peter Bankes to review the defender’s foul on Anthony Elanga.
Fernandes wasted a glorious chance when he failed to get past Sanchez with only the Brighton keeper to beat, before Ronaldo nodded an excellent chance wide of the far post.
It meant United breathed a sigh of relief when Jakub Moder’s speculative effort from the corner of the box bounced back off the bar with David de Gea beaten.
Brighton were still trying to salvage something from the contest when Fernandes scored with a patented United counter-attack with virtually the final kick.
“Big,” said Rangnick, when asked about both the importance of the victory and maintaining a place in the top four, which United have moved into again as a result of their 2-0 win.
“We still have quite a few games to play but this was a very important win for us.”
Given the enormity of the prize, that is something at least.