May 18, 2022

Ronaldo Returns to Manchester: 2 Goals and a Yellow Card

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson believes Cristiano Ronaldo has not lost his goal touch in the four years since he left Old Trafford. The Portuguese winger scored twice on his return to Manchester, but was also booked for a reckless tackle in the second half.

The two teams went in level at the break, after Jonas Olsson’s header cancelled out Ronaldo’s opener. Wayne Rooney doubled their lead when he finished off Javier Hernandez’s cross before Ronaldo converted from the penalty spot after Danny Welbeck had been fouled by Jonny Evans.

“It is great when you see him up close,” said Ferguson about the former world player of the year, who started Wednesday’s friendly at Alkmaar with warm applause from home fans.

“It was a warm welcome back. He hasn’t lost his goal touch.”

However, there was some bad news for United as Nani and Welbeck limped off with hamstring and ankle injuries respectively.

“It was disappointing to lose Nani and Welbeck. That is our season, I am afraid,” said Ferguson.

The game at Alkmaar’s De Koel Stadium had started with some special attention on Ronaldo. The Portuguese player has faced a hostile reaction from United fans ever since he signed for Real Madrid four years ago in a £80m deal.

Manchester United had visited the Noord-Holland club’s previous home De Goffert, but that stadium closed down last year to be converted into an out-of-town shopping mall which opened earlier this year.

The match was played one week before United begin their Premier League campaign against Everton on August 20, but both teams were fielding experimental lineups during the friendly.

“I thought for our first game it was excellent,” said Ferguson.

Wednesday marked Ronaldo’s first appearance at Old Trafford since he became a Madrid player in 2009 after six successful years at United, during which time the 29-year-old helped them win three Premier League titles and one Champions League trophy.

This year, Ronaldo has won the Spanish league title, the Spanish Cup and the Spanish Supercup with Real Madrid. He is under contract with Madrid until June 30 2015.

Ronaldo hasn’t played for Portugal since they were eliminated from the World Cup last 16 by eventual champions Spain Over four years have passed since his last international match but he recently indicated that he had set his heart on representing his country once again.

Ronaldo made a substitute appearance in the second half to a rapturous reception from fans. He completed 45 minutes and showed flashes of brilliance, but he was also booked for a reckless challenge on Maarten Martens.

In spite of his display Ferguson has denied that Ronaldo will return to United after the match.

“I think this is just good PR for us,” said Ferguson about playing Real Madrid at Alkmaar’s De Koel Stadium, close to Amsterdam where Wednesday night’s opponents are based.

Previously, United have played in Rotterdam against Feyenoord and Den Haag in two previous pre-season games.”We couldn’t play in Holland because they were involved in European games,” added Ferguson.

He then joked: “I hope they (the Dutch) were polite to Ronaldo.”

The match marked the first time that United had played at Alkmaar’s new stadium.

“It is a beautiful place, you have all the facilities there,” said Ferguson about the ground which holds 32,500 spectators.

The ‘De Goffert’ stadium closed down last year to be converted into an out-of-town shopping mall which opened earlier this year. It hosted its final football match in January 2012 when Heracles beat PSV Eindhoven 3-0 on penalties after a 0-0 draw in their second division clash.

Ronaldo made his comeback wearing number 24 on his shirt — instead of his usual seven — as he didn’t feature among the starters.

Ronaldo’s first goal came after 16 minutes when he latched onto a through ball from Kaka before firing past United goalkeeper Anders Lindegaard. The second goal followed shortly afterwards as Ronaldo scored with another great strike.

But Ronaldo was sent off in the 79th minute for bringing down Nicky Hofs, earning himself a second yellow card after earlier being cautioned for taking his shirt off to celebrate his first goal.

“It is always better if he doesn’t get booked at all but I think it demonstrates what great athletes they are that both players have come through without any problems,” said Ferguson referring to Ronaldo and Real Madrid’s Colombian midfielder James Rodriguez who also his debut on Wednesday night.