Manchester United 4 Newcastle United 1 – He’s baaaaack! Cristiano Ronaldo shines on second debut
That’s right – last evening, at the fourth time of trying, Arsenal fans finally got their wish of celebrating not just an English Premier League (EPL) goal, but a victory as well. Huzzah!
WATCH: Mikel Arteta reacts to Arsenal's first victory of the season
Of course, Arsenal’s 1-0 victory over Norwich City was completely overshadowed by the fact that Cristiano Ronaldo, in just his first match since re-joining Manchester United, has already outscored the Gunners this season.
The 36-year-old electrified the home crowd on his return to Old Trafford, and gave them a day to remember by scoring two goals to lead Man United to the top of the table with a 4-1 win over the hapless Newcastle United.
There was never really any doubt that the Red Devils would beat the Magpies. Ronaldo, after all, was not the only Man United legend present at Old Trafford last night. So too, was Newcastle manager Steve Bruce, who has become quite the favourite among Man United fans, not just because he once donned the club’s jersey as a no-nonsense centre-back, but because he has a habit of gifting three points to his former side every time they meet.
Yesterday’s story, however, was all about Ronaldo. It had to be – the Portuguese superstar demands the spotlight, with his tricks and flicks, with his goals, with his celebrationsssssiiiuuuu.
WATCH: Solskjaer delighted with Ronaldo's goalscoring debut
It didn’t matter that Bruno Fernandes scored the best goal of the game, or that Paul Pogba, Anthony Martial, and Jesse Lingard proved their many critics wrong by combining for a great team goal.
The day ultimately belonged to Ronaldo. As it should.
Line-ups: There is only one name on the teamsheet that matters: Cristiano Ronaldo. Man United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had promised that Ronaldo would play some part in the game, though not many expected the former Juventus star to start. But how can you leave out one of the two best players in the world when you have him in your team? Solskjaer obviously could not. And his decision looks to have paid off even before the game started – Old Trafford is absolutely buzzing.
19th minute: Varane heads just wide from a corner
To Newcastle’s credit, they manage to hold off Man United pretty well in the opening stages of the game. If this keeps up, I fully expect them to receive the hairdryer treatment from Bruce during the break for not following instructions and rolling over for Man United. But wait – Varane almost saves them from a half-time rollicking with an unmarked header from Luke Shaw’s corner, but the ball goes narrowly wide.
45th + 2 minute: GOAL! WHO ELSE BUT RONALDO!
It had to be him, didn’t it? Ronaldo breaks the deadlock for Man United with a poacher’s goal, after Newcastle goalkeeper Freddie Woodman spills Mason Greenwood’s shot. It’s not the most beautiful goal that Ronaldo will ever score, but it’ll one that he and the rest of the Man United fanbase will remember for the rest of their lives, I guarantee you that.
45th + 2 minute: SIIIIUUUUUUU
And of course, no Ronaldo goal is ever complete without a trademark CR7 celebration…
Half-time: The first-half turned out to be something of a slog for Man United. But Ronaldo’s goal has turned Old Trafford into a cauldron of noise and festivities. Newcastle’s players will be heaving a huge sigh of relief they won’t have to face Bruce’s wrath in the dressing room. But I fear that this could turn ugly for the Magpies in the second-half, since Ronaldo has already broken the lock to the floodgates.
56th minute: GOAL! Newcastle draw level through Manquillo
Well, that was certainly not in the script. Oblivious to the narrative of the day, Javier Manquillo pops up to crash the party by scoring the equaliser for Newcastle via a well-worked counter-attack. Read the room, Javier!
62nd minute: GOAL! RONALDO AGAIN!
Natural order is restored again, and there was really ever going to be one player who was going to do it. This time, Ronaldo gets a chance to showcase his abilities in the final third, as he picks up Luke Shaw’s through ball, ghosts past Isaac Hayden like he was a bottle of Coca-Cola, before firing the ball through the legs of Woodman.
62nd minute: It's SIIIIUUUUUU AGAIN!
Cometh the hour, cometh the man, cometh the goal, cometh the SIIIIUUUUUUU! The home fans are absolutely loving this.
80th minute: GOAL! Fernandes scores a screamer
Ever so often the darling of Man United fans, Fernandes would be forgiven for feeling a little hurt and ignored today, what with all the attention focused on his compatriot instead. Instead of sulking, however, the 27-year-old sends a reminder to everyone of his presence with a belter of a goal. Receiving the ball on the edge of the D from Paul Pogba, Fernandes is afforded all the time in the world by Newcastle’s defenders – who are probably unaware that he doesn’t just score from the penalty spot – to take a touch, pick his spot, and fire an unstoppable shot into the top corner.
90th + 2 minute: GOAL! Lingard puts the icing on the cake
There’s just something apt about Lingard scoring an icing-on-the-cake goal. Everything about the 28-year-old screams “PARTTYYYY”, which is what the home fans will surely be doing after the game. It’s a well-worked team goal, with Martial dummying Pogba’s pass so that it reaches Lingard, who shows quick feet to slam the ball into the net and signal the start of the after-party.
So, the game finishes 4-1 in favour of Man United – a result that takes Solskjaer’s men right to the top of the table. Their arch-rivals, Liverpool, can dethrone them from the summit with a big win over Leeds United tonight (SGT), but Man United fans won’t care. They’ve got their Ronaldo back, and that’s all that really matters to them.