Goal of the Day: Ronaldo's first for United
Today's strike was the first of 84 goals Cristiano Ronaldo scored in a trophy-laden six years at Old Trafford...
Date: 1 November 2003, Old Trafford, Premier League
Background: The Reds’ previous home league outing had resulted in a shock defeat to Fulham, but Diego Forlan’s first-half opener against Pompey marked the resumption of normal service at Old Trafford. Nevertheless, the hard-working visitors frustrated United’s pursuit of a killer second goal until the 80th minute, when Ryan Giggs won a free-kick on the left flank.
The goal: Cristiano Ronaldo took charge of the set-piece and, given his proximity to the touchline, looked poised to swing a delivery towards a raft of red shirted targets inside the penalty area. Instead, the 18-year-old caught everyone off-guard as he drilled the ball low and hard towards the far post, prompting a bouncing effort which goalkeeper Shaka Hislop could only help on its way into the top corner.
What happened next: Roy Keane made it 3-0 just two minutes later to wrap up the three points. Although United ultimately fell short in pursuit of the Premier League title, there would be silverware to polish at the season’s end, with Ronaldo - by now in the goalscoring groove – opening the scoring in a 3-0 FA Cup final win over Millwall.
Reaction: It came as no surprise to Sir Alex Ferguson that Cristiano’s first goal for the club came via a free-kick. In his post-match interview, the boss said:
“Ronaldo's goal has been coming because he has put some terrific balls into the box. He really hits them - he is a tremendous hitter of the dead ball.”