Ronaldo returns for United in style, Arsenal ease Arteta pressure

Published September 12, 2021
MANCHESTER: Manchester United’s Cristiano Ronaldo (L) scores against Newcastle United during the English Premier League match at Old Trafford on Saturday. — AFP
MANCHESTER: Manchester United’s Cristiano Ronaldo (L) scores against Newcastle United during the English Premier League match at Old Trafford on Saturday. — AFP

LONDON: Cristiano Ronaldo enjoyed a sensational return to Manchester United as his debut double inspired a 4-1 win against Newcastle United, while Arsenal eased the pressure on Mikel Arteta with a 1-0 victory over Norwich City in the Premier League action on Saturday.

Ronaldo’s second debut for United was the headline act as the Premier League resumed after the international break and the Portugal superstar did not disappoint his adoring fans at Old Trafford.

The 36-year-old insists he did not make his 19.8 million pounds ($27 million) move from Juventus last month for a ‘vacation’.

Ronaldo lived up to that boast, showing he remains as sharp as ever with a clinical brace either side of Javier Manquillo’s equaliser for Newcastle.

Ronaldo’s compatriot Bruno Fernandes netted with a long-range rocket 10 minutes from full-time before Jesse Lingard bagged the fourth.

A winner of three Premier League titles and one Champions League crown in six years with United before moving to Real Madrid, Ronaldo was making his first appearance for the club since 2009.

United hope the five-time Ballon d’Or winner can help end arch rivals Manchester City’s reign as champions and there was an electric air of anticipation around Old Trafford ahead of his return.

Thousands of fans gathered outside hours before kick-off to catch a glimpse of Ronaldo when he stepped off the United team bus.

Chants of ‘Viva Ronaldo’ echoed around Old Trafford as supporters paraded in their idol’s famous number seven shirt.

Former United boss Alex Ferguson, whose phone call to Ronaldo played a key role in the Portugal striker choosing United over City, was watching from the stands.

There was also a rare visit from the club’s United States-based co-chairman Avram Glazer.

Ronaldo’s name was cheered to the rafters before kick-off and inevitably he was destined to break Newcastle’s resistance two minutes into first half stoppage-time.

Mason Greenwood’s shot was spilled by Newcastle keeper Freddie Woodman and Ronaldo reacted quickest to finish from virtually on the goal-line.

Running to the corner to perform his trademark ‘Sii’ celebration, Ronaldo soaked up the acclaim from 76,000 ecstatic fans.

Not everyone was happy with Ronaldo’s return as a feminist group flew a banner over the stadium in support of a woman who accused the striker of rape in Las Vegas.

In 2019, US prosecutors said Ronaldo, who denied the claims, would not face charges because they could not ‘be proven beyond reasonable doubt’.

Newcastle threatened to spoil Ronaldo’s day when Manquillo equalised in the 56th minute with a fine finish from Allan Saint-Maximin’s pass.

But Ronaldo had other ideas and he restored United’s lead in the 62nd minute.

Luke Shaw’s through-ball sent Ronaldo racing clear on goal and he drilled a low shot under Woodman to raise the roof again.

Surfing the feel-good factor generated by Ronaldo, unbeaten United sit top of the table after a third win from their first four matches.

At the Emirates Stadium, Pierre-Emerick Aubam­eyang gave under-fire Arsenal manager Arteta some much-needed breathing space.

Gabon forward Aubam­eyang tapped home in the 66th minute, with a VAR check going in the Gunners’ favour as Norwich appealed in vain for offside.

After three successive defeats in the top-flight, Arsenal’s first league goal this season was enough to lift them off the bottom of the table and out of the relegation zone.

Despite Ronaldo’s snub, Bernardo Silva showed Manchester City can cope just fine with their array of talent as he fired the champions to a 1-0 win at Leicester City.

Portugal playmaker Silva struck in the 62nd minute with a close-range finish after Caglar Soyuncu blocked Joao Cancelo’s drive.

Second placed City have now won their last three games.

Crystal Palace ended 10-man Tottenham’s perfect start to the Premier League season as Wilfried Zaha’s penalty and a late double from Odsonne Edouard sealed a 3-0 win.

Nuno Espirito Santo’s side had Japhet Tanganga sent off for two bookings in quick succession in the second half at Selhurst Park.

Zaha netted from the spot after Ben Davies’s handball and former Celtic striker Edouard’s debut brace made it a first win for Palace boss Patrick Vieira.

South Korea forward Hwang Hee-chan scored his first Premier League goal for Wolverhampton Wan­derers in their 2-0 win at Watford.

Wolves’ first league goal this season — an own goal by Watford’s Francisco Sierralta — was followed by Hwang’s 83rd minute tap-in in his debut appearance after joining from Leipzig last month.

Brighton & Hove Albion won 1-0 at Brentford thanks to Leandro Trossard’s 90th minute strike, while West Ham United striker Michail Antonio was sent off in their 0-0 draw at Southampton.

Published in Dawn, September 12th, 2021

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