The Matchday at Manchester was all about the return of the inevitable – Cristiano Ronaldo. The fans started to gather in plenty to welcome their boy who left for Real Madrid twelve years ago. When he left, he was already a superstar and in the last twelve years, Cristiano Ronaldo has transformed into a giant of the game – the best player in the world for sure. The debate between Messi and Ronaldo would not finish – but one thing for sure, when the occasion is big, there could hardly be anyone who could hold a candle to the greatness of Cristiano Ronaldo.

There were people who witnessed Ronaldo grow into a giant, there were the new generation of fans, who secured their seats to witness greatness live and at the VIP box, there was the mentor of Ronaldo – Sir Alex Ferguson, whose boy has returned to the theatre of dreams for the final hurrah. And above all, there were billions of television viewers, exercising their eyeballs to watch the great man shine in a red shirt again.

Ronaldo did not disappoint anyone.

Bruce made four changes to his team after their draw with Southampton before the international break, with Manquillo, Hayden, Clark and Joelinton coming into the side. Callum Wilson was missing due to a thigh strain, while Murphy, Fernandez and Schar started on the bench.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer made two changes from the side that beat Wolves last time out, with Ronaldo making his second debut for the club as he started as a centre-forward. Matic was also brought in and Fred dropped to the bench.

The first action of Ronaldo was seen within four minutes when Paul Pogba won the ball in the midfield courtesy of a half clearance by Newcastle United and Pogba lifted over the top to CR7 who nod it down but could not get his feet sorted out quick enough to get a shot away and the offside flag went up.

Mason Greenwood laid the ball off to Pogba and he played over the top of Newcastle’s defence to pick out Bruno Fernandes’ run. He had his back to goal but flicked on the header, but it was heading well wide and no one was following in at the far post.

Fernandes cut inside from the left before curling a good cross into the far post. Ritchie intercepted in the middle, but it lopped up and is falling for Ronaldo. He got the shot all wrong though as he was off-balance and hit wide.

Jadon Sancho tapped one into Ronaldo and he feinted cutting inside to wrong-footed Willock before driving into the box. He pulled back to get away from Lascelles before hitting the shot from a tight angle and sent it straight into the side netting.

A Ronaldo strike from outside the box was blocked by Clark and the rebound fell for Saint-Maximin, who drove forward on the counter again.

The match was just half an hour old when Ronaldo cut inside from the left before squaring the ball to Fernandes and he decided to go for goal from a range. He drilled it towards the far corner and Sancho could not get the touch he needs to help it into the net.

Manchester United were looking good, but not better and in the meantime, Ronaldo was searching for an opener to mark his return.

In the stoppage time, Greenwood cut inside from the right before drilling a low shot towards the near post. Woodman was behind it but he spilt the ball and it bounced straight into Ronaldo’s feet. He tapped it in from very close range to break the deadlock – as if Ronaldo never left Manchester United – the stadium burst into a huge roar.

Ronaldo has scored his first Premier League goal since May 2009 (v Manchester City); his gap of 12 years and 124 days between goals is the second-longest between two strikes by any player in the competition’s history, after Matt Jackson (13y 187d, 1993-2006).

After the break, Manquilo silenced Old Trafford by equalizing from a counter.

Well, it was Ronaldo’s day, who made sure, Manchester United always remain on the front foot.

After an hour of play, Luke Shaw had so much space through the middle when he was picked out by Pogba and drove forward before slotting it through to Ronaldo. He stayed onside before pulling away from Hayden and he sent his shot through Woodman’s legs and into the back of the net.

The man has returned home like a king with a brace to his name.

With ten minutes remaining, a great ball out from David de Gea to get the hosts up-field and Greenwood picked out Pogba, who played in Fernandes. He took a touch to open up the space before hitting the shot from the edge of the D-box. It was a great effort that was just out of Woodman’s reach.


In the stoppage time, Pogba turned away from Almiron before sliding it through to Anthony Martial. He stepped over it, letting it run through to Lingard, who took a touch before curling his shot past Woodman – a comprehensive victory for Manchester United, who not only are at the top of the points table but made the return of their hero glorious.

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