It was a dream return to Old Trafford for Cristiano Ronaldo, who netted a brace on his second Manchester United debut to give the hosts a 4-1 win over Newcastle United in the Premier League.
The first half had provided excitement and frustration in equal measure for both sets of fans until, just before the half-time whistle, Ronaldo announced his arrival with a tap-in from close range after Mason Greenwood’s shot was parried by Freddie Woodman.
Ronaldo then rushed to the corner flag where he did his signature ‘Siu’ celebration, with much of the fans present joining him in the shout that goes along with it.
Newcastle almost spoiled the party early in the second half when the omnipresent Allan Saint-Maximin was found outside the area by a cross-field ball from Miguel Almiron. Saint-Maximin offloaded the ball into the box for the overlapping Javier Manquillo, whose first-time effort beat David De Gea at his far post to equalise for the visitors.
The scriptwriters were not done yet though. Less than ten minutes later, Ronaldo received Luke Shaw’s through ball in the left of the penalty area and rifled a low shot through Woodman’s legs to restore United's lead.
In the 80th minute, keen not to be overshadowed, Ronaldo’s compatriot Bruno Fernandes received the ball outside the area and curled it into the top corner to make it three for the hosts before substitute Jesse Lingard added gloss to the scoreline in injury time.
The result will leave Manchester United fans feeling like kids again ahead of their Champions League clash away to Young Boys on Tuesday, but the Magpies will understandably be fuming after matching United for most of the game.
Image credit: Getty Images
TALKING POINT - Room for everyone?
When Ronaldo's return to Manchester United was confirmed, there were some worries amid all the excitement that he would block the progress of certain United players such as Greenwood, who excelled in the central striker role in the first three games of the Premier League season.
However, moved back out to the right wing today, he enjoyed a decent game albeit an unspectacular one, while Jadon Sancho was moved out to the left and Pogba pushed back into a central midfield role.
Although that suggests Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has found a way to fit all of his star attacking talent into the same starting XI, many questions are still left unanswered such as the eternal one of whether Pogba can excel in a midfield two for Manchester United, whether Sancho is as effective on the left as he is on the right and where Marcus Rashford fits into the equation once he is back from injury.
In order to keep both the fans and the players happy, Solskjaer will have to carefully manage everyone's playing time and rotate in an astute manner.
MAN OF THE MATCH - Paul Pogba (Man Utd)
While Ronaldo will deservedly grab the headlines of course, Pogba's contribution at both ends of the pitch was heavily influential. Unfazed by being moved back into central midfield after enjoying a fruitful opening to the season on the left flank, he added two more assists to a tally of seven in this Premier League season already.
He also finished with 92% pass accuracy, three chances created, seven duels won, six ball recoveries and four aerial duels won in an assured all-round performance. Perhaps that is down to weak opposition, or maybe Nemanja Matic is a better central midfield partner for Pogba than Fred? Either way, this performance was a promising sign for the Frenchman.
Solskjaer: Ronaldo 'delivered' after scoring brace against Newcastle
Man Utd: De Gea 6, Wan Bissaka 7, Varane 8, Maguire 7, Shaw 8, Matic 8, Pogba 9, Greenwood 7, Fernandes 8, Sancho 6, Ronaldo 9. Subs: Lingard 8, Van de Beek N/A, Martial N/A.
Cristiano Ronaldo (left) and Bruno Fernandes - Manchester United
Image credit: Imago
19' - CLOSE! Shaw whips in a corner from the left and Varane's diving header trickles past the goal. Great movement from the French defender!
25' - NOW THAT WAS AUDACIOUS! Fernandes spots Woodman slightly off his line and takes aim from just inside his own half! Luckily for the Newcastle keeper it flies over the bar.
45+2' - GOAL!!! Man Utd 1-0 Newcastle (Ronaldo): WHO ELSE? Need I even say his name? A dream return to Old Trafford for Ronaldo!! Greenwood's low shot from range is parried by Woodman and Ronaldo arrives on scene - just as the scriptwriters wanted - to tap in the rebound.
Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates
Image credit: Getty Images
56' - GOAL!!! Man Utd 1-1 Newcastle (Manquillo): What a move! Almiron speeds past several defenders and switches it to Saint-Maximin on the edge of the area, who spots the overlapping run of Manquillo to his right. The Spaniard's first-time shot beats his compatriot in the Man Utd goal to equalise!
58' - CHANCE! Newcastle almost have a second! Almiron paces down the left and puts the ball in the area, but no one's able to find the back of the net from his cross.
62' - GOAL!!! Man Utd 2-1 Newcastle (Ronaldo): You thought the scriptwriters were done? YOU THOUGHT WRONG! Shaw drives forward and slots the ball through to Ronaldo in the left of the area, who shoots through Woodman's legs for his and Man Utd's second goal of the afternoon! Very poor from the Newcastle keeper, but neither Ronaldo nor the Man Utd fans will care.
68' - SAVED!! Newcastle almost produce another equaliser! Joelinton combines with Ritchie on the left before the Brazilian forces De Gea into making a save.
80' - GOAL!!! Man Utd 3-1 Newcastle (Fernandes): Man Utd have three! Keen not to be overshadowed, Ronaldo's compatriot Fernandes curls a shot into the top corner from outside the area. What a strike!
90+2' - GOAL!!! Man Utd 4-1 Newcastle (Lingard): Well it's not a Ronaldo hat-trick, but it's nice to see Lingard on the scoresheet for Man Utd again! The hosts knock the ball about in slick fashion before Martial's feint allows Pogba's pass to roll through to Lingard, who fires home from inside the box.