Ronaldo's goal an 'I was there' moment
Old Trafford was built for moments like Cristiano Ronaldo’s first goal since his emotional return to Manchester United.
The crowd felt like a coiled spring throughout the first half, with the sense of anticipation palpable every time he even went near the ball. There was a crackle to the atmosphere reserved for such special occasions and doing justice to the fact this was always going to be the hottest ticket in town.
When he miskicked in front of the away fans and received a few taunts early on, his response was to produce a smile. I commented at the time that he would soon pay this back.
There is just an inevitability about it in the way Ronaldo plays, always on the front foot and looking for ways to get in on goal. As the half drew to a close, it appeared like the first half would pass by without a goal from the no.7.
Then Mason Greenwood tried his luck from the edge of the box with his left foot and Freddie Woodman spilled out. Before it had even got to the keeper, Cristiano had second-guessed what was going to happen, like every great striker does.
He burst ahead of the Magpies defenders and was left with what looked like a simple tap-in, some may even say a gift. In reality, it was all down to his movement and anticipation which is truly world class.
Unfortunately, nowadays, there is a nervous wait for VAR verification but we all seemed to put that to one side to milk the moment. Just please don’t ruin it! He turned mid-air close to the press box but even closer to the visiting supporters who had mocked him earlier. Then a loud ‘siiiiuuu’ shout bellowed around the Theatre of Dreams for the first time. It wouldn’t be the last, as he, of course, scored his second after the interval.
You could hear ‘Viva Ronaldo’ being belted out as the spectators made their way down to the concourse for half-time drinks and snacks and, remembering from my time in the stands, also to catch a replay of it on the televisions.
Whatever happens from here, Ronaldo's first goal against Newcastle was a Manchester United moment, a Cristiano Ronaldo moment, that will be remembered for all time. And you sense he is only just getting started...
The opinions in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of Manchester United Football Club.