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Watch: Managing Cristiano Ronaldo is challenging, admits Rangnick

Ralf Rangnick admitted managing Cristiano Ronaldo is “challenging” after the 37-year-old rolled back the years with a hat-trick to beat Tottenham 3-2 and keep Manchester United’s chances of playing in the Champions League next season alive.

The five-time Ballon d’Or winner had scored just once in his previous 10 games, but three fantastic finishes took him clear as the highest scorer in professional men’s football history according to FIFA’s records with 807 goals for club and country.

Ronaldo’s second spell at Old Trafford has so far proven to be an anti-climax with his poor form sparking debate over whether his powers are waning. 

He missed United’s thrashing in the Manchester derby last weekend and was criticised for a perceived lack of commitment as he jetted off to Portugal to rehab a hip injury rather than watch his teammates lose 4-1 at the Etihad after reports he would have been dropped by Rangnick even if fit.

“It is challenging with players like him but he showed today he still has the quality to play for Manchester United,” said Rangnick. “He’s part of the team and if we want to be successful we have to do it together.”

“Today it was his best performance, at least since I arrived. Not only because he scored three goals, but he was also energetically good today and part of the whole team when we had to defend. A top performance by him, but also the rest of the team.”

Victory lifts United back into fourth, although they are just two points ahead of Arsenal who have four games in hand.

A fifth defeat in eight league games is another blow to Tottenham’s hopes of a top-four finish as they remain seventh, now five points behind United.

“It’s difficult to explain this loss,” said Spurs manager Antonio Conte. “I think we didn’t deserve to lose, but at the same time we need to understand how we can improve.”

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