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Rangnick pleased with start at United

Fred's goal helps Red Devils pip Palace in interim manager's first game in charge

Ralf Rangnick's reign at Manchester United got off to a winning start thanks to a stunning strike from the much-maligned Fred to beat Crystal Palace 1-0 at Old Trafford last night.

A bright start from the Red Devils fizzled out without reward and the German looked like he might have to settle for a disappointing draw in his first match since taking charge until the end of the season.

English Premier League
MANCHESTER UNITED CRYSTAL PALACE
1 0
(Fred 77)  

But Fred, who had been a target for much criticism towards the end of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's time as manager, produced a moment of magic with a curling effort on his weaker right foot 13 minutes from time to snatch a crucial victory.

United moved back to within three points of the top four and up to sixth in the English Premier League table.

There were no immediate line-up changes from Rangnick as he named an unchanged side from last Thursday's 3-2 win over Arsenal.

But there was an instant change in approach as United pressed Palace into coughing up possession deep inside their own half twice in the first five minutes and Rangnick said he was impressed with how well his team responded to his input.

Although they faded in the second half, they kept Palace away from goal for long periods.

"I am very happy with the way the team performed, especially the first half hour, with the pressing, it was exceptional. The only thing missing was the 1-0 or 2-0," Rangnick told reporters.

CLEAN SHEET

"The way we defended, we had control of the whole game, the clean sheet was the most important part.

"These are the things we must improve. We need to keep clean sheets. With just the one training session, I was really impressed. We did much better than expected."

Rangnick opted for a narrow system with Marcus Rashford and Cristiano Ronaldo in attack, and Jadon Sancho and Bruno Fernandes operated behind them.

"We wanted to play with two strikers, especially in the central position. By the way, Cristiano Ronaldo's work off the ball, 'chapeau'," he said, using a French word which is used to express respect.

Fernandes noted that they had followed Rangnick's instructions well.

He told Premier League Productions: "I think the first 25 minutes from us was unbelievable, great tempo and we don't give any space to them.

"We recovered a lot of balls high up the pitch. We could have scored many times in the first half, I think, at least three times we could do a little more.

"But we got the three points and that's the most important thing."

Just a point and a rung above United are Tottenham Hotspur, whose revival under Antonio Conte continued as they beat Norwich City 3-0 at home.

The London side scored with an early goal from Lucas Moura and two after half-time from Davinson Sanchez and Son Heung-min.

In last night's other game, Leeds United and Brentford drew 2-2 at Elland Road. - AFP, REUTERS

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