✳ Man Utd 4 Newcastle 1
Manchester, UK | THE INDEPENDENT | Cristiano Ronaldo marked his return to Manchester United in the only way he knows how – by scoring, of course, twice, as the Reds ran out 4-1 winners against Newcastle United on a glorious afternoon at Old Trafford.
Ronaldo’s strike on the stroke of half-time was exactly what United needed after being frustrated by a dogged Newcastle side.
Mason Greenwood, who had been United’s goalscoring hero in their opening three games, took aim with a shot from the right which Freddie Woodman couldn’t hold onto and Ronaldo was there to gobble up the chance, much to the delight of a bouncing Old Trafford.
Newcastle were fully on a mission to spoil the Ronaldo reunion party and Javier Manquillo drew them level on 56 minutes after the visitors broke forward, but six minutes later United’s no.7, was at it again as he slotted home in front of a jubilant Stretford End.
Bruno Fernandes added a sublime third 10 minutes from time, before substitute Jesse Lingard capped off the win in style with a brilliant finish in injury time.
FIRST HALF – RONALDO ON THE MARK
A crescendo of noise greeted the sight of you-know-who stepping virtually last out of the tunnel as Old Trafford waited with bated breath for the second coming.
Within five minutes, Ronaldo had been found by fellow Portuguese Fernandes inside the box, but the ball just flicked off a defender to put United’s no.7 off and the chance escaped.
There was a real sense of expectation every time Ronaldo picked up possession and he took aim on 10 minutes when he exchanged passes with the lively Jadon Sancho on the left, but after flicking the ball inside, he could only find the side-netting.
Raphael Varane, making his home debut, had a good opportunity with a header from a Luke Shaw corner on 19 minutes, but he could only glance it wide. Fernandes had two efforts soon after – one from his own half Beckham-style which dropped just over the bar, before he rolled a shot wide after he, Sancho and Ronaldo combined.
Newcastle were proving stubborn opposition as the Reds dominated possession and kept probing. It looked like the Reds were going to be left frustrated until that man found the net, of course. Greenwood’s shot from the right wasn’t held by Woodman and Ronaldo was there to blast home from five yards in first-half injury time as Old Trafford fully erupted in celebration of a historic moment.
SECOND HALF – DOUBLE PORTUGUESE MAGIC
The second half began as the first finished with United on top, but the Reds were unable to make the most of a couple of half-chances. Despite being pinned back for the most part, the visitors were looking lively on the break and, on 56 minutes, they drew level.
Ciaran Clark powered forward from his own half before finding Allan Saint-Maximin who slipped the ball into Manquillo to drive home.
Six minutes later, though, Ronaldo was back on the scoresheet, and how!
Shaw sped towards goal brilliantly and found the Portuguese in the area and he was never going to miss one-on-one. Cue another Old Trafford eruption!
David De Gea needed to be alert on 67 minutes when Joelinton took aim, but our no.1 brilliantly palmed the ball away.
You felt the Reds needed a third and it duly arrived on 80 minutes. And a ton of credit must go to De Gea who started the move with arguably the pass of the match to Greenwood who broke forward. He laid it back to Pogba who found Fernandes 25 yards out and, within the seconds, the ball was in the top corner.
A fourth duly followed and it was another fabulous finish as substitute Anthony Martial dummied Pogba’s pass into Lingard, who turned to curl the ball home and ensure a day that will live long in the memory for United fans everywhere.