OLD TRAFFORD, MANCHESTER — Cristiano Ronaldo dispatched his 18th Premier League goal of the season from the penalty spot as Manchester United lifted some of the gloom around Old Trafford with a 3-0 win over Brentford.
Before United’s final home match of the season there were more fan protests against the Glazer family’s much-maligned ownership and talk of a mass walkout in the 73rd-minute that failed to materialise.
That might have been down to Raphael Varane making the points safe in the 72nd minute with his first goal for the club, on a night when Ralf Rangnick’s side hit the front early through Bruno Fernandes’ 10th of the season.
Fernandes’ compatriot Ronaldo was denied a goal on the stroke of half-time by a VAR offside but he won and converted a penalty after the hour mark to effectively end the challenge of a game Brentford side.
Christian Eriksen turned in another dazzling display in the eighth match since his return to professional football, and he almost unpicked United from kickoff with a ball over their sleeping defence. Alex Telles just got back to clear ahead of Bryan Mbeumo.
Old Trafford celebrated the deeds of departing veterans Juan Mata and Nemanja Matic on their farewell starts, while Ronaldo was superb throughout. But the ninth-minute opener was all about Anthony Elanga’s youthful verve as he darted down the right flank to deliver a perfect cross for Fernandes to finish.
Mata thought he had a moment to savour when he played in Ronaldo for a 44th-minute finish. However, after the two men embraced, VAR showed the five-time Ballon d’Or winner was fractionally offside.
Fernandes spurned a good opportunity to double the lead after the break, although Brentford were in the ascendancy at the point Rangnick’s men grabbed some breathing space.
Mata conducted the counterattack and Ronaldo burst into the Brentford box from the right, drawing a clumsy foul from Rico Henry.
He finished emphatically before Varane made his less familiar entry to the scoresheet, swivelling home to control a nice finish from Telles’ corner.