Cristiano Ronaldo stars on return as Manchester United cruise past Newcastle

Portuguese forward scores twice on his second debut in the 4-1 Premier League win

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Cristiano Ronaldo justified all the hype and expectation which surrounded his sensational return to Manchester United as the Portuguese forward scored twice in the 4-1 Premier League win over Newcastle United on Saturday.

With his compatriot Bruno Fernandes adding an 80th minute screamer and substitute Jesse Lingard producing a lovely finish the fourth, it was the perfect start to what feels like a new era for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's team.

"Everyone knows what Cristiano Ronaldo has brought to the club and we are really happy to have him," Fernandes told Sky Sports. "The most important, as he will say, is the result for the team. Good players can always play well together."

Long before kick-off, fans in shirts bearing Ronaldo's name and his No 7 were singing the name of the Portuguese 36-year-old around Old Trafford and they were not to be disappointed.

Ronaldo has broken all the major goalscoring records in the game and perhaps the only surprise was that it took him until almost half-time to score the first of his second spell in English football.

He was placed in the middle of an attacking trio with Mason Greenwood to his right and Jadon Sancho to the left with Fernandes hovering behind the front line.

The five-time Ballon d'Or winner, who returned to United from Juventus last month, opened the scoring on the stroke of half-time, pouncing from close range after Newcastle keeper Freddie Woodman spilled out a low drive from Greenwood.

It wasn't spectacular but it was the perfect example of the way Ronaldo, a speedy winger in his first spell at United, has re-shaped himself as a striker.

Javier Manquillo briefly threatened to spoil the homecoming party when he levelled for Newcastle in the 56th minute with a low right-foot drive after Miguel Almiron had led a swift break from the visitors.

Newcastle had exposed an obvious drawback with the attacking line-up chosen by Solskjaer – their vulnerability to the counterattack – and it remains to be seen if better teams will be able to take greater advantage of the lack of protection in front of United's back four.

United's momentum was in danger of being lost but once again Ronaldo showed his deadliness in front of goal, restoring the lead in the 62nd minute with a goal that truly did recall his early days under Alex Ferguson.

He showed power and speed as he latched on to a through ball from Luke Shaw and despite the presence of two defenders, fired through Woodman's legs before reeling off to celebrate with his team mates in front of an ecstatic Stretford End.

"Cristiano Ronaldo has developed into a fantastic goalscorer," Solskjaer said. "He played a very good game, He dropped in, linked play well."

Asked if he considered not starting Ronaldo against Newcastle, the Norwegian replied: "No, of course not. This is what Cristiano is about. This was a day for everyone to enjoy."

Fernandes made sure of the three points in spectacular style 10 minutes from time, collecting a square ball from Paul Pogba and unleashing an unstoppable shot from 25 metres which swerved at speed into the top corner.

Substitute Lingard added to the celebration with a well-taken shot from inside the box after more good work from Pogba as the Old Trafford faithful headed home to the refrain of 'Viva Ronaldo'.

"When you win a game you enjoy it," Solskjaer said. "When you see fans being happy you really enjoy it. There were loads of expectations today. They all delivered."

After four games, United have won three and drawn the other to amass 10 points. Newcastle, on the other hand, are still seeking their first win having drawn once and lost three times.

"We had chances, created opportunities but I am disappointed we have given away some poor goals and that has cost us," Newcastle manager Steve Bruce said.

“The first goal is the big one. We deserved to be 0-0 at half time. That is the instinct, [Cristiano Ronaldo] follows it in and my two defenders don’t and that gets him the first [goal]."

Updated: September 11, 2021, 4:58 PM