With a few minutes remaining in the match, Cristiano Ronaldo left Manchester United’s dugout and made his way along the side of the field and down the tunnel, shunning fans’ attempts at a high-five off the soccer great.
He was in no mood for that, not after failing to even make it off the substitutes’ bench.
United didn’t need him Wednesday.
Producing possibly its most complete performance under Erik ten Hag, United swept past Tottenham in a 2-0 win to move to the brink of the Champions League qualification positions in the Premier League.
Another of English soccer’s storied clubs is stirring, too.
Liverpool completed a redemptive week by beating West Ham 1-0 at Anfield, where three days earlier Jurgen Klopp’s team had seen off Manchester City by the same score. Darwin Núñez scored the first-half winner against West Ham, showing signs of life after a slow start at his new club.
Much like United, Liverpool maybe has been written off too soon this season.
After goals by Fred and Bruno Fernandes sealed its win, fifth-place United is now only a point behind Chelsea, which occupies the fourth and final Champions League place after it drew 0-0 at Brentford to stay undefeated under recently hired manager Graham Potter.
Liverpool is three points further back in seventh but won’t be discounted by its rivals higher in the standings.
Ronaldo managed to cause a stir without even getting on the field.
“I will deal with that tomorrow,” Ten Hag said of the Portugal striker’s premature exit down the tunnel, with the clock yet to strike 90 minutes.
Ronaldo also showed his frustration on Sunday after being substituted in the second half of the 0-0 draw against Newcastle, following his first Premier League start since August.
Núñez is a striker in much better form.
By scoring in three of his last four appearances for Liverpool, the Uruguay striker has hit some good form just before the World Cup and ensuring the Reds might not miss the injured Luis Diaz and Diogo Jota as much as first feared.
“He was outstanding,” Klopp said of his big summer signing from Benfica who also struck the post with a dipping shot. “He is a massive talent. He came from Portugal and he wasn’t there for long, so not too long away he was Uruguay. He is a really big talent and we’re really excited about him.”
Liverpool also had Alisson Becker to thank for the win. The Brazil goalkeeper saved a penalty from Jarrod Bowen in the first half after the forward had been fouled by Joe Gomez.
NEWCASTLE IN FORM
Saudi-owned Newcastle sits right between United and Liverpool in sixth place and might also be a top-four contender this season.
The team extended its unbeaten run to six games by beating Everton 1-0 thanks to Miguel Almiron’s first-half goal.
It was a third straight defeat for Everton, leaving Frank Lampard’s team one point above the relegation zone.
In the other match, Southampton climbed out of the bottom three with a 1-0 victory at Bournemouth that ended its five-game winless run.
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