Norwich City 0-1 Manchester United: Ronaldo secures a hard fought victory
(Photo by Alex Pantling/Getty Images)

A Cristiano Ronaldo penalty saw Manchester United grab a hard fought victory against Norwich City at Carrow Road.

United headed into the game unchanged off the back of two wins in the Premier League, and hoped to continue the good form shown so far in the Ralf Rangnick era.

Meanwhile Norwich started the game bottom of the table, but their hopes of staying up have been boosted since the arrival of Dean Smith, having only lost once in their past five league games.

The first-half was relatively quiet and neither side were at their best. The visitors looked more dangerous, with the best chance coming through an Alex Telles free kick.

The Canaries had good spells of their own, but given how much United have been improving recently, they would have been happy to go in at half time still level.

They continued to create chances throughout the second half, but it was Ronaldo's spot kick that secured United all three points.

Story of the game

It was the hosts who started sharply, putting pressure on United within the first five minutes and not allowing them to settle into a clear rhythm.

The away side were careless in possession and gifted Norwich opportunities to attack, but they just couldn't create anything troubling enough for David De Gea to worry about.

When the Red Devils were attacking they looked like the most likely to score.

It was Telles who almost put them ahead through a free kick on the edge of the box, after Marcus Rashford was brought down.

The Brazilians shot was almost deflected off the wall into the net, but Tim Krul manage to tip it onto the crossbar.

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The home sides best chance of the first half saw a chipped ball from Lukas Rupp fall to Teemu Pukki who just couldn't sort his feet out in time to get a shot off.

As the second half commenced the Canaries grew in confidence, and the crowd could sense a chance to cause an upset.

A shot by Pukki from around 12 yards out was by far their best chance yet, but it was met well by De Gea.

United had to change something, and the in-form Mason Greenwood was brought on for Jadon Sancho.

In a game as close as this, it might not come as a surprise that a penalty would decide it.

Ronaldo was awarded the spot-kick after Max Aarons was judged to have pulled him down in the box.

As expected, the Portuguese sensation converted and came to United's rescue once again.

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But Norwich weren't giving up, and it took yet another world-class save from De Gea to deny Ozan Kabak, whose headed effort looked to be going in.

They were giving it their all in search of the equaliser, but the Red Devils remained resilient and saw out the win.

It takes them level on points with fourth-placed West Ham United and puts them right back in the mix for the Champions League places.

Norwich remain rooted to the bottom of the table and will feel frustrated that they couldn't get at least a draw.

It's games like this where in the past United have struggled to not just win but keep a clean sheet.

De Gea can be thanked for that after he produced an outstanding man of the match display.

This is definitely a performance to improve on, and no doubt Rangnick will stress that, but it's the result that matters most.