Cristiano Ronaldo will have to settle for two goals on his return to Manchester United at Old Trafford. The Portuguese star scored the Red Devils’ first two goals on their way to a 4-1 triumph over Newcastle United in Ronaldo’s first action for the club since his $28 million transfer acquisition from Juventus in August.
Ronaldo was thrown right into the starting lineup in a game that had the feel of a major occasion at Old Trafford, where he last appeared in a Manchester United shirt back in May 2009. He didn’t disappoint the sell-out crowd on hand.
The Manchester United No. 7 poached his first goal just before halftime after the Newcastle goalkeeper spilled a shot and Ronaldo was at the doorestep to push the ball over the line. After Newcastle scored a surprise equalizer in the 56th minute, Ronaldo got his team back in front with a patented Ronaldo goal: He beat his defender one-on-one and fired a searing left-footed ball under the goalkeeper.
Manchester United cruised for the rest of the game against a tiring Newcastle side that allowed Bruno Fernandes all the time he wanted to pick out the corner for a third goal. And then the Red Devils turned on the style with a well-worked fourth goal in stoppage time. A Paul Pogba pass was dummied by Anthony Martial to substitute Jesse Lingard, who applied a classy finish in the box.
There was a different feel about this Manchester United team with Ronaldo in the lineup, and the rest of the Premier League challengers will be on notice. If Manchester United was considered a title contender before his arrival, it might soon be the favorite if Ronaldo can keep up the goal-scoring exploits.
Final: Newcastle United’s defense held strong for nearly the entire first half, frustrating Manchester United and limiting its chances. But it wasn’t quite good enough after the ‘keeper gifted Ronaldo his first goal before the halftime whistle. Manchester United was far from scintillating to start the second half, and Newcastle got its equalizer on a well-worked transition, but then another magical moment from Ronaldo settled the nerves and the result was never in question again. This was a game that Manchester United would have found a way to draw last in recent seasons. Ronaldo’s goals are now the difference.
92nd min.: Goal Manchester United! An Anthony Martial dummy allows a Paul Pogba pass to reach Jesse Lingard in the box and he applies the classy finish.
90th min.: Three minutes of stoppage time. The Red Devils have this one in the bag.
85th min.: SUBS – Man United bring on Donny Van de Beek for Bruno Fernandes and Anthony Martial for Mason Greenwood. Jeff Hendrick comes on for Newcastle’s Joe Willock.
80th min.: Goal Manchester United! Bruno Fernandes all alone 20 yards from goal and he has the time to pick out the top left corner. What a goal from Fernandes. Newcastle is running out of gas and it showed on that play.
77th min.: SUB – Newcastle bring on Jacob Murphy in place of the goal scorer Javier Manquillo. The Magpies are still in this one.
72nd min.: Match has hit a bit of a lull. Manchester United seems content to keep the ball. But nothing incisive in recent minutes.
67th min.: Newcastle is not done! Joelinton enters the box from the left and blasts a shot that De Gea has to punch away for a corner, which amounts to nothing.
66th min.: SUB – Jesse Lingard comes on for Jadon Sancho, who had a quiet game. Meanwhile, a Manchester United corner finds Raphael Varane, but nothing comes of it.
62nd min.: The tie didn’t last long. It’s Ronaldo again! Luke Shaw in transition feeds the returning hero, who beats his defender and fires a left-footed shot under the ‘keeper. Two goals on his return. Wow. Man United up 2-1.
58th min.: Newcastle come close again! Almiron nearly connects with Saint-Maximin on a cross in the Manchester United box. Almiron is having a strong game.
56th min.: Goal Newcastle! Both Almiron and Saint-Maximin get on the ball and the latter serves it perfectly for an unmarked Javier Manquillo who fires home. It’s 1-1!
52nd min.: It’s the same script of the first half so far: Man United looking for a way through, and Newcastle trying to relieve pressure with some sustained possession. When the Magpies get Miguel Almiron or Allan Saint-Maximin on the ball, they’re more dangerous and unpredictable going forward.
46th min.: The second half is underway. No changes.
Halftime: Manchester United 1, Newcastle United 0
Halftime: Manchester United was the better team to start, but the match grew more evenly matched as the minutes went by. Newcastle was organized on defense and Man United only got three shots on goal. Ronaldo was active early, but then the touches waned and when they did come, Newcastle were all over him. The put-back on a spilled shot is exactly the type of goal that first half deserved. Pressure’s off on Ronaldo and Manchester United.
47th+ min.: Goal Ronaldo! And just when it looked like the half was destined to end 0-0, a Mason Greenwood shot was spilled by the goalkeeper and there was Ronaldo who took the gift and poked home the rebound.
45th min.: Two minutes of stoppage time. No one expected Newcastle to hold Manchester United for this long.
39th min.: Ronaldo double-teamed and his shot in the box is stuffed. Ball bounces out to Fernandes, but nothing comes of his cross into the box.
38th min.: Newcastle center back Jamaal Lascelles bumps Ronaldo off the ball on one instance and then a few minutes later clears a ball in the box before it can get to Ronaldo.
33rd min.: Ronaldo is lurking, but he’s not been nearly as involved as he was in the opening stages of the match. Newcastle has settled into the match nicely. The Magpies are defending deep, but they’re not scrambling just yet.
30th min.: Bruno Fernandes attempts to make up for it with a shot from outside the box that Jadon Sancho nearly deflects on goal. Ball finishes wide.
28th min.: What a chance for Newcastle! Bruno Fernandes is dispossessed in his own half, but Joe Willock fires high from the right side of the box instead of passing it.
27th min.: Newcastle’s goalkeeper gets a talking to from the referee for time wasting. Newcastle is milking every second on dead balls, including on this particular goal kick.
26th min.: Not to be outshone by his compatriot, Bruno Fernandes attempts an audacious 35-yard shot lob over the ‘keeper but it finishes over the target. He’s serenaded by the Old Trafford crowd.
23rd min.: Newcastle gaining in confidence when they’re in Manchester United’s half. First Miguel Almiron and then Matt Ritchie fire shots without hesitation. The last one was Ritchie’s and David de Gea has to dive to stop it.
19th min.: A Varane header off a corner kick finishes wide right. That was dangerous.
17th min.: Ronaldo keeping it simple, making quick connecting passes when he’s not in the vicinity of the penalty area.
16th min.: Manchester United’s buzzing start has now fizzled out some. Newcastle getting some spells of possession in the Manchester half.
11th min.: Ronaldo again! He runs at the Newcastle defense down the left side of the box but the shot hits the side netting. He senses the occasion.
9th min.: Ronaldo attempts a half-volley in the box from a tight angle after Ciaran Clark’s header stays up in the air. It goes wide, but that was a tough shot.
7th min.: Newcastle’s No. 7 Joelinton puts Man United’s Varane under pressure, wins the ball and fires a weak shot at goal. He should’ve done better. Newcastle won’t get many of those looks.
5th min.: It’s all Manchester United to start here. Ronaldo got close to a ball in the box, but no clear looks just yet.
1st min.: We’re off!