Old Trafford was packed to the rafters Saturday for Cristiano Ronaldo’s return. Fans started the match singing loudly and didn’t stop until after the final whistle. Everyone was full of confidence with Ole Gunnar Solskaer starting Ronaldo at the top of his 4-2-3-1 formation.
Despite the fans being in full voice, United started sluggish and seemed unable to break down Newcastle’s low block. Newcastle began with all 10 men playing mostly in their own half. Joelinton and Saint-Maximin were the two outlet men looking to catch United on the break.
United final woke up and got a goal in stoppage time of the first 45 minutes. Ronaldo, in the right place at the right time, taps the ball in the back of the net. Woodman spilled Mason Greenwood’s left footed shot, giving Ronaldo an easy goal to start with. This was Ronaldo’s 119th goal for United with his last one coming on May 10, 2009, 4,507 days ago.
United started with the same malaise that impacted them in the first. This lead to Newcastle starting the half on the front foot and pulling a goal back to draw level. Harry Maguire leaves Ralphe Varane exposed at the back after a missed challenge. Saint-Maximin finds an open Manquillo and with only David De Gea to beat he slots home and pulls Newcastle level.
Saint-Maximin and Almiron were real threats all match and played some good counter attacking football for Newcastle. The goal seemed to wake United and the match itself up, with chances being created at both ends of the pitch. Then in the 58th minute Ronaldo gets his second of the match.
Ronaldo Gets His Brace in the Stretford End
Paul Pogba picks the ball up in his own half and passes to a breaking Luke Shaw on half way line. Shaw slides the ball to Ronaldo who splits two defenders and scores between Woodman’s legs. Fans went wild with the goal lifting the mood to a fever pitch. The goal just about killed any fight Newcastle had left and all three points seemed inevitable.
Jesse Lindgard came on in the 66th minute for a largely unproductive Jordan Sancho. He had some moments but they were few and far between. He looks like he still needs some time to adjust to the Premier League. The match slowed considerably after Ronaldo’s second and Newcastle looked tired with 10 men behind the ball.
Bruno Scores a Peach of a Goal
In the 80th minute Fernandes scores a beautiful goal that put the fans back on their feet and singing his name. Pogba gets his first of two assists passing to an open Fernandes who is at the top of the box 20 yards out. Newcastle’s tired defenders didn’t close him down like they did in the first half and Fernandes has a delightful, right footed shot hit the back of the net. The goal started with long up field pass by an attentive David De Gea.
Lindgard Adds a Fourth
United dominated possesion and were causing all kinds of problems for Newcastle. In the 85th and 86th minute Donny Van De Beek comes on for Fernandes and Mason Greenwood makes way for Anthony Martial respectively. Newcastle offered little attacking threat at this point in the match and United get a fourth from Lindergard. Martial leaves a “give and go” return ball from Pogba for Lindgard who smashes a right footed shot past Woodman in the box. The goal came about from some lovely, tight passing from Pogba who had two assists and gave a stand out performance.
United are Top of the Table
United looked extremely dangerous going forward with Ronaldo up top. He is going to make a huge difference this year with the amount of goals he scores and will take United closer to winning the league and he echoed that sentiment in an interview with MUTV. Ole’s starting eleven look like they could go all the way but I still feel we are one or two players away from taking the crown from Manchester City.
United still have some defensive issues, meaning another center mid and maybe another more attacking minded right back. Once United get those taken care of we will have a real chance at the crown. This year will be very close but I think we are still a bit too weak at the back.