Man Utd 3 Sheriff 0: Cristiano Ronaldo scores on Red Devils return after Ten Hag talks as Dalot and Rashford also net
CRISTIAN0 RONALDO shot the Sheriff, now he’s back to being the deputy.
His goal in the 81st minute came after a night of personal toil that looked like ending in another blank.
His persistence would pay off.
But he knows that come Sunday and the home Premier League game against West Ham he will be back on the bench.
That’s just how it is nowadays.
Which could explain his frustration last midweek that lead to his shameful actions when he refused to come on as a substitute late in the 2-0 win over Tottenham.
Banished to train on his own, he was axed from the game against Chelsea at the weekend, but manager Erik Ten Hag was ready to forgive if the player showed some contrition.
So he was back in last night grabbing the third goal in a comfortable win that ensures United’s progress into the next stage of the Europa League.
They travel to San Sebastian next week for a duel with Real Sociedad to decide who will top the group and avoid having to play in the first knockout stage.
It had looked like being a frustrating occasion for Ronaldo as he missed chances he used to tuck away in his sleep.
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In the first period, Victor Lindelof fired a ball to Bruno Fernandes who nodded down for Ronaldo to get the close-range touch needed to score.
He didn’t get any touch, completely missing the ball with Sheriff captain Stjepan Radeljic diverting it towards his own goalkeeper.
In the second-half with the ball at his feet on the edge of the area Ronaldo sent his marker the wrong way to get a yard of space but curled the shot high and wide with the top corner beckoning.
The sighs that greeted it were more of sadness than anything. The player stood there hands on hips, the Streford End chanting “Viva Ronaldo” to try and lift him.
Whatever he does now the faithful will never forget what he did before.
Which is why when he did find the net there was jubilation.
Bruno Fernandes provided the cross, Ronaldo powered a header goalwards – which the keeper saved – but he was alert to convert the rebound.
United had opened the scoring just before the break.
Christian Eriksen’s delivery of a ball really is exceptional.
He said on the eve of this game that he had not joined United just as a squad player and he is proving as central to Ten Hag’s plans as any other player in Red.
The inswinging corner he fired over on 44 minutes was Beckhamesque and it just needed a touch which Diogo Dalot provided with his head sending the ball flashing past visiting goalkeeper Maxym Koval.
Rashford came on at the break to partner Ronaldo and was on the scoresheet on 65 minutes thanks to a superb header from 18 yards out as he met fellow sub Luke Shaw’s clipped cross.
Elsewhere on the night there was fine performance from 18-year Alejandro Garnacho on the left flank on his full debut. He is definitely one for the future.
Ronaldo’s best days maybe in the past, but as Thursday night showed he still has that eye for goal.
Even if come Sunday it will have to be from the bench.
Presuming he wants to come on.
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