Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took a significant step to saving his job as his Manchester United side beat Tottenham Hotspur 3-0 at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
Goals from the strike partnership of Cristiano Ronaldo and Edinson Cavani and substitute Marcus Rashford were enough to put the home side to the sword, as pressure mounts on Nuno Espirito Santo.
In a game previewed as 'El Sackico' due to the precarious positions of both managers' futures, quality was lacking from either side where persistent fouling and poor possession play marred the rhythm of the game.
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Talismanic Portuguese Ronaldo popped up at the back post on 39 minutes, volleying sublimely past Hugo Lloris a delightful cross from his compatriot Bruno Fernandes.
The second goal would stem from a defensive error from the hosts, with Oliver Skipp losing possession in his own half, caught by Fernandes, and Ronaldo had the awareness to chop inside of the desperate Spurs midfielder, setting up his experienced Uruguayan team-mate, and the former Napoli and Paris Saint-Germain striker dinked over Lloris with aplomb.
Fred had gone close with a drive from range, stinging the palms of Tottenham's French goalkeeper, but the hosts did not seem to threaten United's more compact defensive unit, as the returning Raphael Varane marshalled Harry Kane expertly, using his experience to its maximum as the Red Devils saw out the win.
The scoring wasn't over for the revitalised reds as Rashford heaped more misery on the sullen Spurs supporters, tucking away a Nemanja Matic through ball which carved the home defence wide open.
The 3-5-2 shape adopted by the United boss was bold - desperate some claimed - but it turned out to be a stroke of genius as United were hardly troubled by their feeble opponents, who were equally feeling the pressure riding on the fixture.
Spurs were woeful, United weren't great, but the result is the most important thing: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is still alive.
Tottenham - Manchester United
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TALKING POINT - FORMATIONAL SWITCH-UP, CHANGE IN FORTUNES
A supposed 'back five' would have angered a lot of Manchester United supporters when the team news came out, and rightly so - a club their size needs to be on the front foot - attacking with a back four rather than sitting in passively hoping to not lose.
United were just that, though, holding off the press that saw them decimated by Liverpool last week, and they prospered.
The game slowed down in periods, particularly with the influence of Crisitano Ronaldo and Cavani up top as calm heads, and it was both strikers that saw United steal the three points.
Three centre-backs, three goals, three points for Solskjaer as he makes the perfect start to his make-or-break week.
Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United)
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Spurs: Lloris 6, Emerson 6, Dier 6, Romero 6, Davies 5, Skipp 5, Hojbjerg 5, Son 6, Lo Celso 5, Lucas 6, Kane 5, Bergwijn 5, Alli 5, Ndombele 6.
Man Utd: de Gea 6, Lindelof 5, Varane 8, Maguire 6, Wan-Bissaka 7, McTominay 7, Fred 5, Shaw 6, Fernandes 6, Cavani 7, Ronaldo 8, Rashford 7, Matic 7, Lingard 6.
MAN OF THE MATCH - RAPHAEL VARANE, MANCHESTER UNITED
Coming back from injury straight into a high-pressure environment like this is never easy, but the Frenchman buzzed off it, leading the United central defensive trio by example in the middle, showing his class and composure where perhaps Victor Lindelof or captain Maguire may have faltered without hiim.
He marked Harry Kane out of the game as well as having the awareness to utilise his pace in the recovery, picking up the dangerous runs of Son Heung-Min behind the United backline, as well as drifiting into channels to stop the balls into the inside half-spaces.
A world-class defender proving his worth already for Solskjaer.
25': Shaw receives the ball from de Gea wide... it's a lovely clipped ball from Shaw, Fernandes gathers wide in the box, hangs a cross in for Cavani! The Uruguayan nods narrowly wide.
28': NO GOAL! Spurs are ahead, but are they? Son's corner is flicked on by Dier at the near post, and Cristian Romero, all alone at the back stick, tucks it away, but he's just off.
39': GOALLLL!!!!!! A melee in the penalty area from Manchester United ends in a Fernandes cross from deep, clipped in towards Ronaldo pulling away at the back post! A fantastic volley, 1-0!
48': NO GOAL! McTominay broke through the midfield line and slipped it in to Ronaldo who bore down and goal and finished spectacularly, but his celebrations are curtailed as he's ruled offside.
64': GOALLL!!!! Manchester United lead 2-0, and Spurs the masters of their own downfall: Edinson Cavani gobbling up a gift from Skipp, who initiailly gives up possession too easily to Fernandes, and Ronaldo chops inside of the Spurs midfielder, and Cavani does the rest.
86': GOALLL!!! Three of the best, they've made them pay! United are three to the good, Marcus Rashford finishes, after a lovely ball through from Matic. The subs combine, and it's three at the back, three goals, three points for Solskjaer.
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