anfield showdown | 

David De Gea sounds rallying cry ahead of Liverpool clash as Man United stagger to victory

Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates scoring their third goal with Nemanja Matic REUTERS/Craig Brough

Kevin Palmer

David De Gea challenged his Manchester United team-mates to take the battle to Liverpool in Tuesday night's crunch Premier League game at Anfield, after Cristiano Ronaldo breathed life back into their push for a top four finish with a hat-trick in a 3-2 win against Norwich.

With protests raging outside Old Trafford, Ronaldo rose above the din to deliver for United once more, with the 60th hat-trick of his remarkable career seeing off a Norwich side that came from 2-0 down to rattle the home side.

“You’re not fit to wear the shirt” bellowed some as fan discontent grew, only for star man Ronaldo to rifle home a stunning 25-yard free-kick and seal a hard-fought win against Canaries.

A first win in five weeks for Ralf Rangnick’s side was hardly a resounding response to last week’s loss at Everton, but surprise defeats for Tottenham and Arsenal on Saturday have injected new life into United’s top-four hopes.

"We know we are not at our best moment. The most important thing is the victory and we are closer to the top four," declared De Gea.

"The spirit is there. Everyone is dropping points, so we have a chance. It's not enough to be in the top four. We should control the game from the beginning and not give them chances. We give chances to every team so we have to improve a lot.

"We take the three points and let's see on Tuesday [away to Liverpool]. I hope this victory gives us more confidence. We want to go there and try and win.

"Cristiano Ronaldo is a top player, he always tries to score goals and tries to be there for the team.

"We take the three points and let’s see on Tuesday at Liverpool. I hope this victory gives us more confidence. We want to go there and try and win. We will fight for the top four until the last second."

Winning at Anfield will be a tough task for a United side that struggled for long periods against one of the Premier League's worst sides, with his performance doing little to boost the confidence of Ralf Rangnick's misfiring side.

"After we scored our second goal we should have made life easier for ourselves but we didn't," said United interim boss Rangnick.

"We lost our structure and weren't aggressive enough. It's about being clever and smart. All of a sudden it was 2-2 and David de Gea kept us in the game. But we definitely have to raise our play.

"We should not only rely on him (Ronaldo). We played well at times but we sometimes slowed the game down and didn't make use of overlap situations on the wing. Defensively I was not happy at all.

"The results elsewhere were good. But it doesn't make sense to look to other results. We need to raise our game."

As for Ronaldo, he has now scored 20 plus goals in all competitions in each of his last 16 seasons at club level, in a run starting back in the 2006/07 season with Manchester United.

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