Insight

Ronaldo re-United

As Cristiano Ronaldo completes his Manchester United return, Simon Hart recalls the forward’s Champions League exploits in his first spell at Old Trafford.

Be it at Young Boys on 14 September or at Old Trafford against Villarreal on 29 September, or even later in the autumn, the sight of Cristiano Ronaldo back in a Manchester United shirt on a European night will stir the blood of so many United followers.

It will stir memories too. For this observer, one match in particular stands out, a warm May evening in 2009 when Ronaldo struck twice in a 3-1 semi-final second-leg triumph at Arsenal, his last Champions League goals for the club.

There was the free-kick from more than 25 metres out on the right which flew past Manuel Almunia at his near post. Followed by the devastating counterattack which brought his second: first a backheel touch to Park Ji-Sung midway inside his own half and then, after Park’s pass has sent Wayne Rooney racing away down the left, the sprint into the box to get on the end of Rooney’s cross and add United’s third. Oh, and did I mention his cutback also brought Park’s opener that night?

Looking back, it is curious to note that the man with 134 UEFA Champions League goals actually did not score in any of his first 27 outings in the competition. After making his debut in a 2-1 loss at Stuttgart in October 2003, he was kept at bay in his first three campaigns (discounting a strike against Debrecen in an August 2005 qualifier). Not until the April of his fourth season did he break his duck, on a night to remember at Old Trafford – United’s 7-1 quarter-final rout of Roma, in which he scored twice.

Entering that second leg, he had 16 Premier League goals for the season, and the editor of United Review must have sensed something was brewing given that the 22-year-old Portuguese (his face a touch chubbier and paler prior to his return to sunnier climes) featured on the cover of the match programme. In his notes inside, Sir Alex Ferguson praises Ronaldo’s role in the goal Wayne Rooney had scored in United’s narrow first-leg defeat: “We scored a classic with Cristiano Ronaldo, a danger all night, launching an attack that saw a lovely cross from Ole Gunnar Solskjær beautifully converted by Rooney.”

Ronaldo scored his first group stage goals in a 7-1 rout of Roma in April 2007 (top); Cristiano Ronaldo (second from left, top row) prepares to make his debut in the Champions League group stage away to Stuttgart on 1 October 2003 (above)


Then there’s the interview with Ronaldo himself, who says: “I always try to play as well as I can, but I think my time is coming in this tournament. I want to score in Europe like I have been doing in the league, but I don’t think about that too much.” Maybe, but the goals soon flowed thereafter, his next one coming in the semi-final loss to AC Milan, then eight the next season as United won the trophy.

That number includes his header in the final against Chelsea in Moscow, though it’s another from that campaign – a towering header back at the Stadio Olimpico for the quarter-final rematch against Roma – that Gary Neville, his old team-mate at Old Trafford, considered his finest.

It is instructive to cite Neville’s evaluation of Ronaldo’s United career in his autobiography Red, where he splits the Portuguese’s stay in Manchester into two parts – three years when United were “polishing the diamond” and “three when he’d sparkled and been truly sensational”.

He explains: “All of a sudden his selection of pass, his decision-making when it came to beating the man or laying it off, became so much more ruthless and consistent. He was maturing mentally and physically. He’d filled out into a muscular lad, with a prize-fighter’s build, and that helped him grow into a roving menace.”

That “roving menace” went on to score 105 Champions League goals for Real Madrid. It is a different Ronaldo who returns to Manchester, albeit one still capable of 29 Serie A goals and four in the Champions League last term. “I want him in the penalty area,” says Solskjær, looking for less roving but trusting that old nose for the back of the net.

Be it at Young Boys on 14 September or at Old Trafford against Villarreal on 29 September, or even later in the autumn, the sight of Cristiano Ronaldo back in a Manchester United shirt on a European night will stir the blood of so many United followers.

It will stir memories too. For this observer, one match in particular stands out, a warm May evening in 2009 when Ronaldo struck twice in a 3-1 semi-final second-leg triumph at Arsenal, his last Champions League goals for the club.

There was the free-kick from more than 25 metres out on the right which flew past Manuel Almunia at his near post. Followed by the devastating counterattack which brought his second: first a backheel touch to Park Ji-Sung midway inside his own half and then, after Park’s pass has sent Wayne Rooney racing away down the left, the sprint into the box to get on the end of Rooney’s cross and add United’s third. Oh, and did I mention his cutback also brought Park’s opener that night?

Looking back, it is curious to note that the man with 134 UEFA Champions League goals actually did not score in any of his first 27 outings in the competition. After making his debut in a 2-1 loss at Stuttgart in October 2003, he was kept at bay in his first three campaigns (discounting a strike against Debrecen in an August 2005 qualifier). Not until the April of his fourth season did he break his duck, on a night to remember at Old Trafford – United’s 7-1 quarter-final rout of Roma, in which he scored twice.

Entering that second leg, he had 16 Premier League goals for the season, and the editor of United Review must have sensed something was brewing given that the 22-year-old Portuguese (his face a touch chubbier and paler prior to his return to sunnier climes) featured on the cover of the match programme. In his notes inside, Sir Alex Ferguson praises Ronaldo’s role in the goal Wayne Rooney had scored in United’s narrow first-leg defeat: “We scored a classic with Cristiano Ronaldo, a danger all night, launching an attack that saw a lovely cross from Ole Gunnar Solskjær beautifully converted by Rooney.”

Ronaldo scored his first group stage goals in a 7-1 rout of Roma in April 2007 (top); Cristiano Ronaldo (second from left, top row) prepares to make his debut in the Champions League group stage away to Stuttgart on 1 October 2003 (above)


Then there’s the interview with Ronaldo himself, who says: “I always try to play as well as I can, but I think my time is coming in this tournament. I want to score in Europe like I have been doing in the league, but I don’t think about that too much.” Maybe, but the goals soon flowed thereafter, his next one coming in the semi-final loss to AC Milan, then eight the next season as United won the trophy.

That number includes his header in the final against Chelsea in Moscow, though it’s another from that campaign – a towering header back at the Stadio Olimpico for the quarter-final rematch against Roma – that Gary Neville, his old team-mate at Old Trafford, considered his finest.

It is instructive to cite Neville’s evaluation of Ronaldo’s United career in his autobiography Red, where he splits the Portuguese’s stay in Manchester into two parts – three years when United were “polishing the diamond” and “three when he’d sparkled and been truly sensational”.

He explains: “All of a sudden his selection of pass, his decision-making when it came to beating the man or laying it off, became so much more ruthless and consistent. He was maturing mentally and physically. He’d filled out into a muscular lad, with a prize-fighter’s build, and that helped him grow into a roving menace.”

That “roving menace” went on to score 105 Champions League goals for Real Madrid. It is a different Ronaldo who returns to Manchester, albeit one still capable of 29 Serie A goals and four in the Champions League last term. “I want him in the penalty area,” says Solskjær, looking for less roving but trusting that old nose for the back of the net.

Read the full story
Sign up now to get access to this and every premium feature on Champions Journal. You will also get access to member-only competitions and offers. And you get all of that completely free!

Be it at Young Boys on 14 September or at Old Trafford against Villarreal on 29 September, or even later in the autumn, the sight of Cristiano Ronaldo back in a Manchester United shirt on a European night will stir the blood of so many United followers.

It will stir memories too. For this observer, one match in particular stands out, a warm May evening in 2009 when Ronaldo struck twice in a 3-1 semi-final second-leg triumph at Arsenal, his last Champions League goals for the club.

There was the free-kick from more than 25 metres out on the right which flew past Manuel Almunia at his near post. Followed by the devastating counterattack which brought his second: first a backheel touch to Park Ji-Sung midway inside his own half and then, after Park’s pass has sent Wayne Rooney racing away down the left, the sprint into the box to get on the end of Rooney’s cross and add United’s third. Oh, and did I mention his cutback also brought Park’s opener that night?

Looking back, it is curious to note that the man with 134 UEFA Champions League goals actually did not score in any of his first 27 outings in the competition. After making his debut in a 2-1 loss at Stuttgart in October 2003, he was kept at bay in his first three campaigns (discounting a strike against Debrecen in an August 2005 qualifier). Not until the April of his fourth season did he break his duck, on a night to remember at Old Trafford – United’s 7-1 quarter-final rout of Roma, in which he scored twice.

Entering that second leg, he had 16 Premier League goals for the season, and the editor of United Review must have sensed something was brewing given that the 22-year-old Portuguese (his face a touch chubbier and paler prior to his return to sunnier climes) featured on the cover of the match programme. In his notes inside, Sir Alex Ferguson praises Ronaldo’s role in the goal Wayne Rooney had scored in United’s narrow first-leg defeat: “We scored a classic with Cristiano Ronaldo, a danger all night, launching an attack that saw a lovely cross from Ole Gunnar Solskjær beautifully converted by Rooney.”

Ronaldo scored his first group stage goals in a 7-1 rout of Roma in April 2007 (top); Cristiano Ronaldo (second from left, top row) prepares to make his debut in the Champions League group stage away to Stuttgart on 1 October 2003 (above)


Then there’s the interview with Ronaldo himself, who says: “I always try to play as well as I can, but I think my time is coming in this tournament. I want to score in Europe like I have been doing in the league, but I don’t think about that too much.” Maybe, but the goals soon flowed thereafter, his next one coming in the semi-final loss to AC Milan, then eight the next season as United won the trophy.

That number includes his header in the final against Chelsea in Moscow, though it’s another from that campaign – a towering header back at the Stadio Olimpico for the quarter-final rematch against Roma – that Gary Neville, his old team-mate at Old Trafford, considered his finest.

It is instructive to cite Neville’s evaluation of Ronaldo’s United career in his autobiography Red, where he splits the Portuguese’s stay in Manchester into two parts – three years when United were “polishing the diamond” and “three when he’d sparkled and been truly sensational”.

He explains: “All of a sudden his selection of pass, his decision-making when it came to beating the man or laying it off, became so much more ruthless and consistent. He was maturing mentally and physically. He’d filled out into a muscular lad, with a prize-fighter’s build, and that helped him grow into a roving menace.”

That “roving menace” went on to score 105 Champions League goals for Real Madrid. It is a different Ronaldo who returns to Manchester, albeit one still capable of 29 Serie A goals and four in the Champions League last term. “I want him in the penalty area,” says Solskjær, looking for less roving but trusting that old nose for the back of the net.

Ronaldo re-United
Insight

Ronaldo re-United

As Cristiano Ronaldo completes his Manchester United return, Simon Hart recalls the forward’s Champions League exploits in his first spell at Old Trafford.

Be it at Young Boys on 14 September or at Old Trafford against Villarreal on 29 September, or even later in the autumn, the sight of Cristiano Ronaldo back in a Manchester United shirt on a European night will stir the blood of so many United followers.

It will stir memories too. For this observer, one match in particular stands out, a warm May evening in 2009 when Ronaldo struck twice in a 3-1 semi-final second-leg triumph at Arsenal, his last Champions League goals for the club.

There was the free-kick from more than 25 metres out on the right which flew past Manuel Almunia at his near post. Followed by the devastating counterattack which brought his second: first a backheel touch to Park Ji-Sung midway inside his own half and then, after Park’s pass has sent Wayne Rooney racing away down the left, the sprint into the box to get on the end of Rooney’s cross and add United’s third. Oh, and did I mention his cutback also brought Park’s opener that night?

Looking back, it is curious to note that the man with 134 UEFA Champions League goals actually did not score in any of his first 27 outings in the competition. After making his debut in a 2-1 loss at Stuttgart in October 2003, he was kept at bay in his first three campaigns (discounting a strike against Debrecen in an August 2005 qualifier). Not until the April of his fourth season did he break his duck, on a night to remember at Old Trafford – United’s 7-1 quarter-final rout of Roma, in which he scored twice.

Entering that second leg, he had 16 Premier League goals for the season, and the editor of United Review must have sensed something was brewing given that the 22-year-old Portuguese (his face a touch chubbier and paler prior to his return to sunnier climes) featured on the cover of the match programme. In his notes inside, Sir Alex Ferguson praises Ronaldo’s role in the goal Wayne Rooney had scored in United’s narrow first-leg defeat: “We scored a classic with Cristiano Ronaldo, a danger all night, launching an attack that saw a lovely cross from Ole Gunnar Solskjær beautifully converted by Rooney.”

Ronaldo scored his first group stage goals in a 7-1 rout of Roma in April 2007 (top); Cristiano Ronaldo (second from left, top row) prepares to make his debut in the Champions League group stage away to Stuttgart on 1 October 2003 (above)


Then there’s the interview with Ronaldo himself, who says: “I always try to play as well as I can, but I think my time is coming in this tournament. I want to score in Europe like I have been doing in the league, but I don’t think about that too much.” Maybe, but the goals soon flowed thereafter, his next one coming in the semi-final loss to AC Milan, then eight the next season as United won the trophy.

That number includes his header in the final against Chelsea in Moscow, though it’s another from that campaign – a towering header back at the Stadio Olimpico for the quarter-final rematch against Roma – that Gary Neville, his old team-mate at Old Trafford, considered his finest.

It is instructive to cite Neville’s evaluation of Ronaldo’s United career in his autobiography Red, where he splits the Portuguese’s stay in Manchester into two parts – three years when United were “polishing the diamond” and “three when he’d sparkled and been truly sensational”.

He explains: “All of a sudden his selection of pass, his decision-making when it came to beating the man or laying it off, became so much more ruthless and consistent. He was maturing mentally and physically. He’d filled out into a muscular lad, with a prize-fighter’s build, and that helped him grow into a roving menace.”

That “roving menace” went on to score 105 Champions League goals for Real Madrid. It is a different Ronaldo who returns to Manchester, albeit one still capable of 29 Serie A goals and four in the Champions League last term. “I want him in the penalty area,” says Solskjær, looking for less roving but trusting that old nose for the back of the net.

Penalty Pedigree

Etiam erat velit scelerisque in dictum non. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at. Scelerisque felis imperdiet proin fermentum leo. Nibh tortor id aliquet lectus proin nibh nisl. Nulla at volutpat diam ut venenatis. At urna condimentum mattis pellentesque id nibh tortor id aliquet. Leo a diam sollicitudin tempor id eu nisl nunc mi. Dui vivamus arcu felis bibendum ut. Pharetra convallis posuere morbi leo urna molestie. Adipiscing at in tellus integer feugiat scelerisque. In arcu cursus euismod quis. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at lectus urna duis. Facilisi nullam vehicula ipsum a arcu cursus. At tempor commodo ullamcorper a lacus vestibulum sed arcu non. Ipsum dolor sit amet consectetur adipiscing elit pellentesque habitant. Vitae sapien pellentesque habitant morbi tristique senectus. Eget nullam non nisi est sit amet facilisis. Ipsum consequat nisl vel pretium lectus quam. Elit sed vulputate mi sit amet mauris commodo quis. Pretium fusce id velit ut tortor pretium viverra suspendisse potenti.

Be it at Young Boys on 14 September or at Old Trafford against Villarreal on 29 September, or even later in the autumn, the sight of Cristiano Ronaldo back in a Manchester United shirt on a European night will stir the blood of so many United followers.

It will stir memories too. For this observer, one match in particular stands out, a warm May evening in 2009 when Ronaldo struck twice in a 3-1 semi-final second-leg triumph at Arsenal, his last Champions League goals for the club.

There was the free-kick from more than 25 metres out on the right which flew past Manuel Almunia at his near post. Followed by the devastating counterattack which brought his second: first a backheel touch to Park Ji-Sung midway inside his own half and then, after Park’s pass has sent Wayne Rooney racing away down the left, the sprint into the box to get on the end of Rooney’s cross and add United’s third. Oh, and did I mention his cutback also brought Park’s opener that night?

Looking back, it is curious to note that the man with 134 UEFA Champions League goals actually did not score in any of his first 27 outings in the competition. After making his debut in a 2-1 loss at Stuttgart in October 2003, he was kept at bay in his first three campaigns (discounting a strike against Debrecen in an August 2005 qualifier). Not until the April of his fourth season did he break his duck, on a night to remember at Old Trafford – United’s 7-1 quarter-final rout of Roma, in which he scored twice.

Entering that second leg, he had 16 Premier League goals for the season, and the editor of United Review must have sensed something was brewing given that the 22-year-old Portuguese (his face a touch chubbier and paler prior to his return to sunnier climes) featured on the cover of the match programme. In his notes inside, Sir Alex Ferguson praises Ronaldo’s role in the goal Wayne Rooney had scored in United’s narrow first-leg defeat: “We scored a classic with Cristiano Ronaldo, a danger all night, launching an attack that saw a lovely cross from Ole Gunnar Solskjær beautifully converted by Rooney.”

Ronaldo scored his first group stage goals in a 7-1 rout of Roma in April 2007 (top); Cristiano Ronaldo (second from left, top row) prepares to make his debut in the Champions League group stage away to Stuttgart on 1 October 2003 (above)


Then there’s the interview with Ronaldo himself, who says: “I always try to play as well as I can, but I think my time is coming in this tournament. I want to score in Europe like I have been doing in the league, but I don’t think about that too much.” Maybe, but the goals soon flowed thereafter, his next one coming in the semi-final loss to AC Milan, then eight the next season as United won the trophy.

That number includes his header in the final against Chelsea in Moscow, though it’s another from that campaign – a towering header back at the Stadio Olimpico for the quarter-final rematch against Roma – that Gary Neville, his old team-mate at Old Trafford, considered his finest.

It is instructive to cite Neville’s evaluation of Ronaldo’s United career in his autobiography Red, where he splits the Portuguese’s stay in Manchester into two parts – three years when United were “polishing the diamond” and “three when he’d sparkled and been truly sensational”.

He explains: “All of a sudden his selection of pass, his decision-making when it came to beating the man or laying it off, became so much more ruthless and consistent. He was maturing mentally and physically. He’d filled out into a muscular lad, with a prize-fighter’s build, and that helped him grow into a roving menace.”

That “roving menace” went on to score 105 Champions League goals for Real Madrid. It is a different Ronaldo who returns to Manchester, albeit one still capable of 29 Serie A goals and four in the Champions League last term. “I want him in the penalty area,” says Solskjær, looking for less roving but trusting that old nose for the back of the net.

Read the full story
Sign up now to get access to this and every premium feature on Champions Journal. You will also get access to member-only competitions and offers. And you get all of that completely free!

Be it at Young Boys on 14 September or at Old Trafford against Villarreal on 29 September, or even later in the autumn, the sight of Cristiano Ronaldo back in a Manchester United shirt on a European night will stir the blood of so many United followers.

It will stir memories too. For this observer, one match in particular stands out, a warm May evening in 2009 when Ronaldo struck twice in a 3-1 semi-final second-leg triumph at Arsenal, his last Champions League goals for the club.

There was the free-kick from more than 25 metres out on the right which flew past Manuel Almunia at his near post. Followed by the devastating counterattack which brought his second: first a backheel touch to Park Ji-Sung midway inside his own half and then, after Park’s pass has sent Wayne Rooney racing away down the left, the sprint into the box to get on the end of Rooney’s cross and add United’s third. Oh, and did I mention his cutback also brought Park’s opener that night?

Looking back, it is curious to note that the man with 134 UEFA Champions League goals actually did not score in any of his first 27 outings in the competition. After making his debut in a 2-1 loss at Stuttgart in October 2003, he was kept at bay in his first three campaigns (discounting a strike against Debrecen in an August 2005 qualifier). Not until the April of his fourth season did he break his duck, on a night to remember at Old Trafford – United’s 7-1 quarter-final rout of Roma, in which he scored twice.

Entering that second leg, he had 16 Premier League goals for the season, and the editor of United Review must have sensed something was brewing given that the 22-year-old Portuguese (his face a touch chubbier and paler prior to his return to sunnier climes) featured on the cover of the match programme. In his notes inside, Sir Alex Ferguson praises Ronaldo’s role in the goal Wayne Rooney had scored in United’s narrow first-leg defeat: “We scored a classic with Cristiano Ronaldo, a danger all night, launching an attack that saw a lovely cross from Ole Gunnar Solskjær beautifully converted by Rooney.”

Ronaldo scored his first group stage goals in a 7-1 rout of Roma in April 2007 (top); Cristiano Ronaldo (second from left, top row) prepares to make his debut in the Champions League group stage away to Stuttgart on 1 October 2003 (above)


Then there’s the interview with Ronaldo himself, who says: “I always try to play as well as I can, but I think my time is coming in this tournament. I want to score in Europe like I have been doing in the league, but I don’t think about that too much.” Maybe, but the goals soon flowed thereafter, his next one coming in the semi-final loss to AC Milan, then eight the next season as United won the trophy.

That number includes his header in the final against Chelsea in Moscow, though it’s another from that campaign – a towering header back at the Stadio Olimpico for the quarter-final rematch against Roma – that Gary Neville, his old team-mate at Old Trafford, considered his finest.

It is instructive to cite Neville’s evaluation of Ronaldo’s United career in his autobiography Red, where he splits the Portuguese’s stay in Manchester into two parts – three years when United were “polishing the diamond” and “three when he’d sparkled and been truly sensational”.

He explains: “All of a sudden his selection of pass, his decision-making when it came to beating the man or laying it off, became so much more ruthless and consistent. He was maturing mentally and physically. He’d filled out into a muscular lad, with a prize-fighter’s build, and that helped him grow into a roving menace.”

That “roving menace” went on to score 105 Champions League goals for Real Madrid. It is a different Ronaldo who returns to Manchester, albeit one still capable of 29 Serie A goals and four in the Champions League last term. “I want him in the penalty area,” says Solskjær, looking for less roving but trusting that old nose for the back of the net.

Penalty Pedigree

Etiam erat velit scelerisque in dictum non. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at. Scelerisque felis imperdiet proin fermentum leo. Nibh tortor id aliquet lectus proin nibh nisl. Nulla at volutpat diam ut venenatis. At urna condimentum mattis pellentesque id nibh tortor id aliquet. Leo a diam sollicitudin tempor id eu nisl nunc mi. Dui vivamus arcu felis bibendum ut. Pharetra convallis posuere morbi leo urna molestie. Adipiscing at in tellus integer feugiat scelerisque. In arcu cursus euismod quis. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at lectus urna duis. Facilisi nullam vehicula ipsum a arcu cursus. At tempor commodo ullamcorper a lacus vestibulum sed arcu non. Ipsum dolor sit amet consectetur adipiscing elit pellentesque habitant. Vitae sapien pellentesque habitant morbi tristique senectus. Eget nullam non nisi est sit amet facilisis. Ipsum consequat nisl vel pretium lectus quam. Elit sed vulputate mi sit amet mauris commodo quis. Pretium fusce id velit ut tortor pretium viverra suspendisse potenti.

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