Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was left beaming after Cristiano Ronaldo made a sensational second debut for the club today, the 36-year-old attacker bagging a brace in a 4-1 home win over Newcastle.
Old Trafford was understandably buzzing at the return of their prodigal son, and although United pinned Newcastle back from the off it would be the 19th minute before they went close to breaching the Magpies goal. French centre-back Raphael Varane’s glancing header going just wide of the back post from a corner.
Solskjaer’s side continued to huff and puff, but as the game ticked into stoppage time it looked as if the sides would go in at the break all square. However, in the 47th minute of the first-half the home crowd and millions watching around the world would be given exactly what they wanted – a Cristiano Ronaldo goal.
The goal itself was nothing special, the Portuguese superstar tapping home from a couple of yards after Mason Greenwood’s deflected effort was spilled by Freddie Woodman. The quality of the strike meant little to the home crowd though, who erupted in delight.
Most observers expected United to pull away as the second period got underway but Solskjaer’s men continued to put in an unconvincing performance and in the 56th minute Newcastle would make them pay by hitting an unexpected equaliser. Spanish full-back Javier Manquillo drilling home a fine low finish from at the back post for just his second ever Premier League goal.
Just minutes later and Man United would hit the front once again and of course it would come from their number 7, Ronaldo firing through the legs of Woodman after being slipped through by the rampaging Luke Shaw.
Ronaldo isn’t the only world-class Portuguese attacker on United’s books though and Bruno Fernandes reminded everyone of his quality by sealing the win with a cracking long-range strike into the top corner with 10 minutes to go.
Then, in stoppage time, substitute Jesse Lingard would put some gloss on the scoreline, the England international curling home from 12 yards out after some intricate team play around the edge of the area.
⚡️ The atmosphere during Cristiano Ronaldo’s post-match interview is electric! pic.twitter.com/O71GAbogtq
— Football Daily (@footballdaily) September 11, 2021
Speaking afterwards, United boss Solskjaer hailed Ronaldo’s evolution into a goal poacher supreme.
“When you win a game you enjoy it. When you see fans being happy you really enjoy it,” Solskjaer told Sky Sports.
”There were loads of expectations today. They all delivered.
“We have to deliver every time. That’s Manchester United. It doesn’t change.
“Cristiano Ronaldo has developed into a fantastic goalscorer. He played a very good game, He dropped in, linked play well.”
There had been some speculation that Solskjaer would start Ronaldo on the bench, but the Norwegian coach scoffed at any such suggestion.
“No. Of course not. This is what Cristiano is about. This was a day for everyone to enjoy.”
While many will still question the quality of Man United’s all-round performance, today was all about the return of Ronaldo, and as he has done so often throughout his iconic career, he delivered.