Ronaldo enjoyed a fairytale return to the Theatre of Dreams as his double helped United to a 4-1 victory in front of a raucous crowd on Saturday afternoon.
With unceasing chants of “Viva Ronaldo!” ringing out across an expectant stadium long before kick-off, Ronaldo did not disappoint the Old Trafford faithful as he picked up where he left off after leaving the club for Real Madrid 12 years ago.
After a mixed opening in which he badly miscued a volley when well well-placed early on, Ronaldo made the breakthrough for the home team just before half-time, pouncing to turn the ball home after Newcastle goalkeeper Freddie Woodman had fumbled Mason Greenwood’s effort from outside the box.
Newcastle threatened to ruin the Ronaldo love-in with their breakaway equalizer through Javier Manquillo just over 10 minutes into the second half, but it was Ronaldo to the rescue for United.
Being fed by Luke Shaw down the left, the marauding number seven collected the ball before driving it through Woodman’s legs to put United back in front on 62 minutes.
The tinderbox atmosphere exploded into life again as Ronaldo wheeled away in celebration for the second time of the afternoon.
Ronaldo’s countryman Bruno Fernandes got on the scoresheet with a thunderbolt from outside the box to make it 3-1 in the 80th minute, before substitute Jesse Lingard made it four for the hosts in injury time – but the online reaction was all about Ronaldo as the 36-year-old was hailed as a force of nature.
Ronaldo’s sidelined Manchester United teammate Marcus Rashford was among those to tweet his appreciation, writing: “Like he never left.”
Others harked back to Ronaldo’s first Manchester United debut as a fresh-faced teenager way back in 2003 – claiming his second coming was just as promising.
Elsewhere, the statisticians were also out in force as Ronaldo netted his 119th and 120th goals for United in his 293rd appearance – while the home fans goaded the Newcastle contingent at Old Trafford by claiming they had only made the journey to watch the five-time Ballon d’Or winner play.
36 – Cristiano Ronaldo (36y 218d) is the oldest player to score a brace in a Premier League match since Graham Alexander for Burnley against Hull in April 2010 (38y 182d). Restored. (opta Joe)
Not long after full-time, Ronaldo also had a message for his 341 million Instagram followers.
“My return to Old Trafford was just a brief reminder of why this stadium is known as the Theater of Dreams. For me, it has always been a magical place where you can achieve everything you set your mind into,” read a post from the star’s account.
“Along with all my teammates and with the amazing support that we always get from the stands, we face the road ahead with confidence and optimism that we’ll all be celebrating together in the end.
“Proud to be back at Man. United and playing in the Premier League once again, but above all, happy to help the team!”
United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was likewise brimming with delight after the game.
““I’m so happy for Ronaldo, the team and the supporters,” said the Norwegian.
“You sense the atmosphere around the club, it could have been an anti-climax but he’s delivered again.
“It’s special, he’s a special man for us, a special player in the history of the club. The supporters love him of course.
“He senses the big moments, he clinical, he’s a goalscorer.
“They [the fans] can scream, but we’ll keep our focus and concentrate on the next game,” added the United boss in a note of caution.
Beaten Newcastle boss Steve Bruce was equally complimentary in his post-match comments.
“If there is a genuine superstar among us, then it’s him,” admitted the former Man Utd defender.
The win lifted Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team to the top of the Premier League table with 10 points from their four games, one point ahead of crosstown rivals Manchester City.
Based on Saturday’s start, the United faithful will be hoping there’s plenty more where that came from for Ronaldo.