Cristiano Ronaldo’s 50th club career hat-trick dug Manchester United out of a hole against lowly Norwich City as the under-par Red Devils won 3-2 at Old Trafford.
The 37-year-old’s treble was his second in his past three Premier League appearances.
Ronaldo moved to 99 Premier League goals in his career, and Manchester United could only thank him for sparing them a potentially embarrassing afternoon.
It took him to 21 goals for the season, going through the 20 barrier for a 16th consecutive campaign.
He put Manchester United two up early on, but Norwich hit back through Kieran Dowell and Teemu Pukki.
David de Gea sprinted from his line to expertly block Pukki’s attempted dink over the goalkeeper in the third minute, and Norwich would soon regret failing to take that golden chance.
But the former Real Madrid and Juventus star lashed a free-kick winner through the grasp of Tim Krul in the 76th minute.
Ronaldo saw a fizzing 20-yard shot saved by Krul in the seventh minute.
But seconds later the Manchester United man did better, with Anthony Elanga dispossessing Ben Gibson in the penalty area and squaring for an easy close-range finish.
Ronaldo got their second in the 32nd minute when he headed a corner-kick from the right by Alex Telles past Krul.
Norwich surprisingly got one back in first-half stoppage time when Pukki’s cross from the left was nodded in at the far post by an unmarked Dowell.
Manchester United kept pressing against opponents who at that point appeared ripe to be picked off.
Incredibly, having been outplayed for so long, Norwich got level after 52 minutes.
De Gea had to save well from Milot Rashica to keep the hosts on level terms, but then up stepped Ronaldo from 25 yards to save the day.
That was when Pukki tucked past De Gea after Dowell played him in and the striker stayed just onside.
Manchester United lacked coherence in attack and were out of sorts throughout.