Manchester United boss Ralf Rangnick made light of Cristiano Ronaldo’s impromptu trip back home last week and praised the veteran after his hat-trick secured a crucial win over Tottenham on Saturday.

Ronaldo made the headlines last weekend as he travelled back to Portugal while his team-mates went down in the Manchester derby.

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What was said?

“Today [Ronaldo] showed for sure he’s physically capable to do that,” Rangnick beamed to reporters after the 3-2 victory.

“We also have to admit he has not always been like that in last few weeks and months so therefore today it was really important that he showed that he is still in a shape that he can perform on that kind of level and this is exactly what we need for the rest of of the season.

“For those nine games more in the Premier League but also in the Champions League on Tuesday. We were just joking a little bit but maybe it makes sense to send him to Portugal for three days, have him not train for two days then have him back in training on Thursday.

“He performed on a similar kind level in training on Thursday, that’s why I decided to play him from the start even though he had been out for a week. Maybe we have to do that for the rest of the season.”

The bigger picture

Ronaldo, 37, enjoyed a fantastic run of form after returning to United from Juventus last summer, especially in the Champions League where he smashed six goals in five games to spearhead his side’s passage to the last 16.

In recent months, however, he has found goals harder to come by, with the star hitting the net in just one of his last eight appearances in the Premier League prior to Saturday.

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Now, the club will be hoping he is back to his best as they look not just to secure Champions League football next season, but continue in this year’s tournament.

Tuesday sees Atletico Madrid visit with the last-16 tie poised at 1-1, while they currently occupy fourth place in the Premier League, though fifth-placed Arsenal are just two points behind and hold four games in hand over their rivals.

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