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Manchester United out of the top 4 as Cristiano Ronaldo’s dry spell continues

Ronaldo didn't even start the 1-1 draw at last-place Burnley on Tuesday, only appearing as a second-half substitute and failing to score for a fifth straight game. That's his worst run without a goal at club level since 2010.

Ronaldo, Manchester UnitedBurnley's James Tarkowski, left, tries to block a shot from Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo during the English Premier League soccer match between Burnley and Manchester United at Turf Moor, in Burnley, England, Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2022. (AP Photo/Jon Super)

Out of the FA Cup, now out of the Premier League’s top four.

Manchester United is going through a rough spell under Ralf Rangnick _ and Cristiano Ronaldo currently isn’t in good enough scoring form to get the team out of it.

Ronaldo didn’t even start the 1-1 draw at last-place Burnley on Tuesday, only appearing as a second-half substitute and failing to score for a fifth straight game. That’s his worst run without a goal at club level since 2010.

The problems run deeper than the scoring slump of one of the world’s great strikers, though.

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The way United dropped off in the second half was alarming, just like the team did in the second half of its FA Cup game at home to second-tier Middlesbrough on Friday. United lost a penalty shootout on that occasion.

Also alarming was the defending by England center back Harry Maguire that allowed lanky striker Wout Weghorst, Burnley’s new signing, to turn him in the middle of the field and play in Jay Rodriguez for the equalizer in the 47th minute.

Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo, Manchester United’s Cristiano Ronaldo, center, looks out during the English Premier League soccer match between Burnley and Manchester United at Turf Moor, in Burnley, England, Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2022. (AP Photo/Jon Super)

That canceled out the 18th-minute opener by Paul Pogba, starting for the second game after a long injury layoff and probably United’s best player in the first half.

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United actually scored three times before halftime but two were ruled out, first for an offside against Maguire _ before he blocked off Rodriguez prior to Raphael Varane heading home _ and then for an innocuous-looking foul by Pogba.

United fell to fifth place, a point behind West Ham, which was a 1-0 winner over Watford on Tuesday.

“A frustrating night for us because we should have won that game comfortably,“ Rangnick said. “We scored three goals in the first half so I couldn’t blame the team for not having a killer instinct in the first half.

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“In the end it was also a little question of luck. One point for a performance like this is just not enough.”

ZOUMA JEERED

Jarrod Bowen’s second-half goal secured victory for West Ham but the main talking point was its inclusion of Kurt Zouma, who was named in the starting lineup despite a video _ shared widely across social media _ showing him kicking and slapping a cat.

West Ham had earlier said it “unreservedly condemns the actions of our player“ and Zouma had apologized.
West Ham manager David Moyes said Zouma will remain available for selection, adding: “The club will sort the other side of it out and I’ll look after the football side.”

Watford’s visiting fans relentlessly booed Zouma’s every touch and chanted, among other things, `RSPCA, RSPCA’ _ referring to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Watford dropped one spot, to next-to-last place.

NEWCASTLE ON RISE

Newcastle beat Everton 3-1 in the other game to climb out of the relegation zone and move four points ahead of Burnley.

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Everton, meanwhile, is sinking closer to the bottom three, with only three points separating the team with third-to-last Norwich.

Frank Lampard’s first game in charge of Everton was a 4-1 win over Brentford in the FA Cup on Saturday but he was given a reality check, despite his team going ahead through Jamaal Lascelles’ own-goal.

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Mason Holgate also scored an own-goal a minute later for Newcastle’s equalizer, before second-half goals by Ryan Fraser and Kieran Trippier, one of the Saudi-owned club’s five signings in January.

It was Newcastle’s third win of the season.

First published on: 09-02-2022 at 09:08:29 am
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