Ready for Rangnick: Sancho helps Man United draw at Chelsea

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Manchester United’s Jadon Sancho celebrates with Manchester United’s Fred, left, after scoring the opening goal during the English Premier League soccer match between Chelsea and Manchester United at Stamford Bridge stadium in London, Sunday, Nov. 28, 2021. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

LONDON (AP) — The cautious game plan, with Cristiano Ronaldo dropped to the bench, worked for Manchester United.

Hitting Chelsea on the counterattack, with Jadon Sancho scoring his first Premier League goal, and grabbing a point is the type of damage limitation-mode United is in this season.

Snatching a 1-1 draw on Sunday — after home humiliations to Liverpool and Manchester City in the fading embers of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s reign — gives Ralf Rangnick a platform to build on.

The German is yet to officially take charge — with a post-Brexit work permit still to be secured — but this could well be Michael Carrick’s final act as interim caretaker manager.

The disappointment for United will be not holding onto the lead after Aaron Wan-Bissaka caught the back of Thiago Silva’s heel when clearing the ball. Jorginho equalized from a penalty in the 69th minute — a day before the Italian discovers if he has won the Ballon d’Or.

Jorginho had been at fault for the United goal in the 50th minute. Mis-controlling a clearance from United midfielder Bruno Fernandes’ hooked long ball allowed Jadon Sancho to seize possession. The 21-year-old forward had the space to race through on goal before slipping a shot past goalkeeper Edouard Mendy that crept inside the right post.

Sancho, who joined in July for 85 million euros (then $100 million), also netted in the Champions League on Tuesday in a win at Villarreal.

Now another positive result — after losing five of its last seven league games under Solskjaer — has taken United to within five points of West Ham in the fourth Champions League qualification place.

“It’s not enough to draw, but at the moment, the way we are it’s a big point,” United goalkeeper David de Gea said. “In the last games we were conceding three or four goals, now we conceded one from a penalty and got a clean sheet against Villarreal, so I think we are improving.

“But this is two games, we need to show in the games that are coming, like Arsenal — a big game again. Let’s keep going, keep focused.”

CHELSEA’S LEAD CUT

Manchester City beat West Ham 2-1 as the defending champions trimmed Chelsea’s lead at the top to a single point.

Ilkay Gundogan tapped in City’s opener in the 33rd minute from Riyad Mahrez’s deflected crossfield ball. Fernandinho’s strike in the 90th meant Manuel Lanzini’s dipping shot in stoppage time would only be a consolation.

Snow was falling at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester but it was a heavier storm about 30 miles (48 kilometers) north at Turf Moor that forced the postponement of Burnley’s home game against Tottenham less than an hour before kickoff.

EVERTON STRUGGLES

Ahead of the Merseyside derby reunion with former club Liverpool, Rafa Benitez has gone a seventh match without a win as Everton manager.

Ivan Toney, who played under Benitez at Newcastle but struggled for playing time, scored the goal that gave Brentford a 1-0 win over Everton.

Brentford claimed a first home league win since the opening day of the season against Arsenal in August to move up to 12th. Everton is two places lower in the 20-team standings.

RANIERI’S MISERABLE RETURN

Five years after so unexpectedly winning the Premier League title with Leicester, Claudio Ranieri’s mission now is avoiding relegation with Watford.

Losing 4-2 at Leicester, though, leaves Watford two places above the relegation zone with a four-point cushion. James Maddison scored a goal and provided two assists for Jamie Vardy. Ademola Lookman also netted as Leicester celebrated only a third win in 10 league games to move up to 10th place.

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1/12 vs. St. John’s 8:30pm FS1
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2/1 vs. Creighton 6:30pm FS1
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