Manchester United 3-2 Norwich City: Cristiano Ronaldo's 50th club hat-trick inspires United back into top four race
(Photo by Tom Purslow/Manchester United via Getty Images)

Manchester United have Cristiano Ronaldo to thank yet again after he scored a sublime free-kick to complete his hat-trick and secure a vital three points against Norwich City

United's hopes of playing in the Champions League next season had been handed a boost earlier in the afternoon when Tottenham Hotspur were beaten by Brighton at home. Arsenal also suffered defeat as they were beaten by Southampton. 

Other than Ronaldo's brilliance, the man that changed the game happened to be Nemanja Matic who announced this week that he would be leaving the club at the end of the season.

The Serbian was brought on as Norwich were getting on top but United regained control shortly after. 

Story of the game 

The drama at Old Trafford had already started long before kick-off as Man United fans protested against the ownership of the club. The demonstration began just before midday at the Tollgate, a local pub where supporters meet before games, which is roughly one mile from the stadium. 

Thousands marched towards the stadium escorted by police with flares lit and banners held high. They then made their way through the Munich tunnel and stopped just in front of where the directors enter the ground. Police were guarding the entrance but the protestors ensured their voices were heard and chanted some vile songs. 

The protestors had also organised to boycott the match for the first 17 minutes, a minute for every year the Glazer family have been in charge. 

Inside the Theatre of Dreams is where the action continued and Ronaldo entertained those who were in their seats after just seven minutes. It was Anthony Elanga who won the brilliantly in Norwich's box before cutting the ball back for Ronaldo to slot past Tim Krul. 

Fans were, however, inside the stadium for his second goal of the game. Ronaldo doubled United's lead with his 20th goal of the season after a fantastic header from Alex Telles' cross. 

Norwich equalised on the brink of half-time through Dowell. He was picked out perfectly by Pukki at the back post. 

And less than 10 minutes after the restart, Smith's side had equalised. Pukki again caused United problems, this time as the goalscorer with a clinical finish. United lost possession in Norwich's half and were victims of a brutal counterattack. 

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Norwich continued to counter and created opportunities to take the lead and had it not been for David De Gea, they would have taken the lead. The Spanish goalkeeper excellently turned Milot Rashica's effort around the post to keep the score level. 

United made changes which included Paul Pogba being hooked and some fans booed the French midfielder as he departed the pitch.

But it was that 'problem' from the first half of the season that put United back into the lead. With his 50th club hat-trick and a stunning free-kick, Ronaldo hammered United to a 3-2 lead.  

Norwich continued to push forward to find an equaliser but United ran down the clock to ensure the three points.