Manchester United have become reliant on Cristiano Ronaldo in recent weeks, to the point where he is the only positive.
It was up to Ronaldo to bail United out against Chelsea with a wonderfully taken goal from the first real chance he had.
United had conceded the opener to Marcos Alonso earlier, amid a turgid first hour where the home side simple were not at the races, but somehow kept the game scoreless.
Ronaldo showed he is as lethal as ever, rifling home his shot over the onrushing Edouard Mendy, after a pass from Nemanja Matic.
Remarkably this was Ronaldo’s first ever Premier League goal against Chelsea, although he did famously score against them in the Champions League final in Moscow in 2008.
The strike was Ronaldo’s 23rd goal of the season, and he has now netted United’s last five goals in a row, and eight of the last nine.
It’s not bad for a 37-year-old, who some pundits were wrongfully labelling as the reason for United’s poor form this season. This was a bad take which Rio Ferdinand referenced after his strike.
Ronaldo is playing well and showing that at 37, he is still a force. Among his 23 goals, 17 have come in the Premier League, making him the joint second highest scorer in the top flight.
Ronaldo’s performance was about more than his goal, too. His work rate put a few of his teammates to shame, he was constantly tracking back and made clearances from set pieces too.
Dutch legend Marco van Basten this week urged Erik ten Hag to build his team around Ronaldo. On this evidence it would be a smart move, for next season at least. He is the only player worthy of praise from this latest performance.
Here is a look at how Manchester United fans reacted to Ronaldo’s performance…