Cristiano Ronaldo is back in the Manchester United team and back among the goals after he was axed from the squad following his dissenting behaviour in their Premier League game victory against Tottenham Hotspur two matchweeks ago.
The former Juventus man left the pitch with minutes to spare after refusing to come on as a substitute in the Tottenham game. His punishment was banishment from the squad but after a week spent mending fences, Ronaldo rejoined the team and was given a run in their UEFA Europa League game against Moldovan side Sheriff Tiraspol.
After a game spent knocking on the door of the opponents, who were visiting Old Trafford for the game, Ronaldo had the ball in the back of the net in the 62nd minute but it was ruled out for offside. His efforts finally paid off in the 81st minute when he pounced on a rebound after a save from his initial header.
That effort was Ronaldo’s second in the Europa League (both goals came against Sheriff) and his third in all competitions for Manchester United this season.
Speaking on BT Sport after the game, Paul Scholes, Ronaldo’s former teammate at United, said: “He had plenty of chances. Eventually his goal came. You felt his goal was coming.
“He missed so many chances. He was frustrated he couldn’t get that goal. To react on the rebound is proper centre forward’s finish.”
“He was always in right position which shows his instinct is there his goals will come,” added another of his former United teammates Owen Hargreaves. “To play at this level at 37 is fantastic. I think the goals will come for him.
“He’s not getting the goals of last season but if he keeps playing I’m sure the goals will fly in for him.”
United manager Erik ten Hag praised Ronaldo for his efforts in the game after the high-profile bust up which saw both figures engage in a little back and forth in the Spurs game before the Portugal international’s walkout.
The Dutch manager said: “He didn’t give up. I think that’s what he’s done his whole career, and in the end he got his reward for it.
“The team kept going to put him in the right position, and he kept going to get himself in the right position.”
Praise also rolled in for ten Hag for his management of a situation which could have spelt doom for the side this season. Scholars said: “I think the way the manager handled it has been perfect. He’s come to this game, it’s done and dusted.
“Cristiano won’t think about the past he will look forwards and try get as many goals as he could. I think he has a lot to offer, probably not in the way he wants.
“His goals will be needed as he produces most of the time what his club needs. They will need goals if they want a successful season. “