Cristiano Ronaldo’s Manchester United return: ‘I was nervous, but the fans were unbelievable. I belong to Man Utd’ | Football News

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Cristiano Ronaldo’s Manchester United return: ‘I was nervous, but the fans were unbelievable.  I belong to Man Utd’ |  Football News

Cristiano Ronaldo claimed he had suffered from pre-match nerves before marking an emotional Manchester United homecoming with two goals against Newcastle.

Ronaldo put United ahead before half-time at Old Trafford and then restored their advantage after a Javier Manquillo equaliser, paving the way for Bruno Fernandes and Jesse Lingard to put the gloss on a 4-1 win with classy late goals.

There was no disguising the day’s central figure, the new No 7 living up to his well-earned reputation for revelling in the limelight and drawing the same kind of reaction from the home support that greeted his spectacular first debut as a raw teenager more than 18 years ago.

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Manchester United’s win over Newcastle in the Premier League.

But as he spoke to Sky Sports Afterwards with the adulation of home supporters pouring down from the stands, there was a surprise admission from the returning superstar.

“It’s unbelievable,” he said of the support. “When I started the game I was so nervous, I swear. But I think it was normal.

“I didn’t expect they would sing all game my name so I was very nervous. Maybe it didn’t show, but I was. The reception is incredible, but I’m here to win games, to help the team and get the club back where they deserve.”

The trademark self-confidence was in evidence, though, as he admitted he fully expected to see his name on the scoresheet.

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Cristiano Ronaldo said he was extremely nervous on his Manchester Utd return against Newcastle and that he was amazed by the reception of the Old Trafford fans.

As it turned out, Ronaldo ended up scoring twice or more in a game for an astonishing 200th time, and he said: I expected one, but not two.

“Of course, I’m happy to score the goals, I won’t deny that, but the most important thing is the team. They played consistently, they played at a high level and most of the time, we showed a mature intelligence so I’m proud of that.”

The sense of a genuine homecoming was reinforced by the man himself, too, as he said: “Everyone knows that the football here in England is different than any part of the world. I’ve played everywhere and to be honest, England is the most special one.

“I belong to Man Utd. I arrived here at 18 years old, they treated me unbelievable and this is why I came back. I’m so proud to be here and I want to win.”

Solskjaer: ‘This is what Cristiano is about’

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer did not even attempt to disguise his intention to play Ronaldo in the run-up to the game, and asked afterwards whether there was any doubt the Portugal superstar would start, he told Sky Sports: “No, of course not.

“This is what Man United is about, this is what Cristiano is about and this was a day for everyone to enjoy and they’ve delivered.”

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Ronaldo walks out onto the Old Trafford pitch for kick-off in his game against Newcastle

Ronaldo, at 36, may not be the same kind of player who thrilled while scoring 118 goals during his first spell in England, but a pair of poacher’s finishes were a classic hallmark of the new model.

“He has developed into a fantastic goalscorer,” said Solskjaer, a renowned penalty-box predator himself as a player, “sensing the big moments, knowing where to be, positioning himself in the box, playing a very good game. He drops in , links the play well, but gets in the box when he has to.”

‘This is what Man Utd supporters should feel like’

Speaking from pitch-side, and struggling to make himself heard over an atmosphere which had been brewing since fans began to gather outside the stadium early in the day, Solskjaer added: “When you win a game, you enjoy it.

“When you see the fans happy as they are, you really enjoy it and when you see the players coming off, proud of their performance… There were lots of expectations today, for the team, for Cristiano and they delivered. We have to deliver every time. That’s Man United – it doesn’t change.

“If you think a few months back, how it was here and now we’ve got this atmosphere, this is what Man United supporters should feel like. They should be allowed to dream, but we’ll keep our feet on the ground and focus on the next game.”

The goals from Ronaldo and Fernandes went some way to answer pre-match questions about whether the two compatriots can gel in the same starting XI.

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Manchester Utd fans revel in Cristiano Ronaldo’s return to the club as he scores twice in the 4-1 at home to Newcastle.

Solskjaer said: “Good players can always play together and they’ve got such a mutual respect for each other, they play in the national team together. We will work to develop that partnership, of course.”

The manager also highlighted Lingard’s contribution – a first United goal since he returned from a loan spell at West Ham, calling it a “fantastic occasion” for the England forward but would not be drawn on the possibility of a Premier League title challenge.

“It’s too early for me to start predicting where we’ll end up,” he said. “It’s going to be a tight season, we know there’s many good teams, but we have to be consistent, keep doing what we do and let’s see where we are.”

Bruce: ‘Something else’ to witness Ronaldo’s return

The magnitude of the occasion did not escape Solskjaer’s opposite number Steve Bruce, who credited his players for making a “big fist” of the game but was in no doubt where the day’s story lay.

He said: “If there’s a genuine superstar among everybody, then he is. What he’s done and what he’s achieved, and the witnessing of it today, has been something else.”

Bruce pinpointed the opening goal, a snaffled close-range strike after a mistake from Karl Darlow, as evidence of Ronaldo operating on a different plane.

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Steve Bruce cannot remember having so many chances at Old Trafford before but admits Newcastle were wasteful in front of goal and gave poor goals away.

He said: “That’s the goalscoring instinct of a centre-forward, where our defenders haven’t followed it in. He’s on the end of it and it’s a tap-in and those little things change the game.

“We made a big fist of it, I thought. We’re disappointed with the goals we’ve given away, we’ve got to be a bit more clinical but we were a threat. We took part in the game and unfortunately weren’t ‘t good enough.”

Merson: Ronaldo on another planet

Paul Merson watched the game for Soccer Saturday, and was every bit as overawed by Ronaldo’s impact.

“His movement was absolutely phenomenal,” Merson said. “The first goal was a mistake by the goalie but there’s only one person following up – he’s the one who goes ‘he’s going to spill this’ and he taps it in.

“The second goal, Luke Shaw gets the ball… and he sprints. He didn’t sprint too many times today – it’s a great touch to take it away from [Isaac] Hayden and he hits it hard and low. The goalie will be disappointed – it goes through his legs – but his movement and awareness in seeing it – that’s what he’s there for.

“He’s not going to close full-backs down, and he played a lot of what I would call wall passes where he just came and kept it ticking over, but his movement was phenomenal.

“He’s not the same player, but if you put the ball in the box or you look up and find time on the ball his movement is absolutely scary. I thought Cavani’s was good, but he is on another planet.”

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