Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo prepares to shoot to score their second goal against Newcastle during their English Premier League match at Old Trafford on Saturday. AFP
Gulf Today Report
Talismanic striker Cristiano Ronaldo lived up to his reputation as he scored his first goal for Manchester United, who drubbed Newcastle 4-1, after 12 years on his return to his boyhood club on Saturday.
Ronaldo, who rose to fame at the United under Sir Alex Ferguson, made his second debut for the club after a 10-year long spell with the Spanish giants Real Madrid.
This was Ronaldo’s 119th goal for the Manchester United, who gave a pompous welcome to their hero. The Portuguese broke the deadlock in the first-half stoppage time to put United 1-0 ahead.
After a long spell at Real, Ronaldo moved to the Juventus for a two-year stint before United swooped for the five-time Ballon d'Or winner as his move headlined the transfer window.
During his six-year stay at United between 2003 and 2009, the Portuguese won several accolodes and honours, which includes the Champions League, three Premier League titles and he was first crowned the world's best player.
Javier Manquello pulled one back for Newcastle in the 56th minute, before Roanldo added one more in six minutes later to make it 2-1.
Bruno Fernandez and Jisse Lingard scored one each in the 80th and the 92nd minute respectively to make it 4-1 as United cruised to a facile win.
Lionel Messi finished with a bloody nose and swollen cheek but Barcelona left unscathed, with one foot in the semi-finals and Manchester United hoping for another Champions League miracle.
Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson Becker saved well from Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba in the second half, but neither side deserved to win.
Lack of patience after conceding an equaliser against the run of play made Manchester City fall apart in their 5-2 Premier League home defeat by “defensive-minded” Leicester City, manager Pep Guardiola said.
Manchester United drew 0-0 with Leeds on Sunday to stay on track for a second-place finish in the Premier League as Burnley took a giant step towards survival. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men extended their unbeaten away league run to 24 matches but both teams looked short of imagination in a lacklustre encounter at Elland Road.
The result takes United to 67 points after 33 games, 10 points behind champions-elect Manchester City but eight points clear of third-placed Leicester.
Chasing down City already appeared a fruitless task and the stalemate means Pep Guardiola’s men would be crowned champions next weekend if they beat Crystal Palace and United lose to Liverpool.
Manchester United’s team bus entered Elland Road with minimum fuss, in sharp contrast to Monday, when angry Leeds fans, who had gathered in protest against the ill-fated Super League, hurled abuse at Liverpool’s squad.
Supporters began their own protests at Old Trafford on Saturday and a banner reading “£2bn stolen #Glazers out” was flown over Leeds’ ground before kick-off, in reference to the Manchester United’s unpopular owners.
Solskjaer rested Paul Pogba and Edinson Cavani with one eye on Thursday’s Europa League semi-final first leg against Roma.
The visitors, who won 6-2 in December’s reverse fixture at Old Trafford, had the better of the chances in a disappointing game.
Leeds goalkeeper Illan Meslier did well to keep out a thunderous Marcus Rashford free-kick shortly before half-time while Bruno Fernandes dragged his shot wide after being set up by Aaron Wan-Bissaka shortly before the hour mark.
Minutes later Helder Costa’s shot was deflected onto the roof of the net at the other end after a long diagonal pass, while Mateusz Klich shot straight at United goalkeeper Dean Henderson.
Solskjaer threw on Pogba and Cavani but United could not find a way past stubborn Leeds.
“We have to win every single game to put pressure on City,” said the Norwegian manager. “This is two points dropped that makes them very safe. But we push on.
“We have two semis coming up (both legs of the Europa League tie) and Liverpool in the middle. It was a difficult week last week but it is the business end of the season. You work so that every game matters.”
Earlier, Chris Wood scored a first-half hat-trick as Burnley pummelled Wolves 4-0 to lift themselves nine points clear of the Premier League relegation zone.
Burnley were sharper and more committed but mid-table Wolves contributed to their downfall with some sloppy defensive work at an empty Molineux.
Wood, who is now Burnley’s outright top scorer in the Premier League, is the first player from New Zealand to score a Premier League hat-trick.
The win lifted Sean Dyche’s men to 14th in the table, nine points clear of 18th-placed Fulham with just five games remaining, meaning they are almost certain to secure a sixth successive season of top-flight football.
“We knew our position was in our hands and that was the main thing,” Wood told the BBC. “We wanted to keep it that way and this has made it a little bit easier now but there are still five tough games to go and we will see where we lie.”
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