Cristiano Ronaldo made a comeback after his suspension with a goal in the Europa League. The scene of the evening, however, was delivered by a teammate
It started with scattered boos and ended in harmony: Cristiano Ronaldo made a committed return to Manchester United after his suspension and even earned praise afterwards from coach Erik ten Hag, who had temporarily banned him.
The 37-year-old Portuguese scored the final goal in Thursday night’s 3-0 home win over Sheriff Tiraspol, which earned the Red Devils a place in the knockout rounds of the Europa League and a group-stage final at Real Sociedad, after creating several chances earlier in the game but also letting them go. In the 81st minute, he failed to head past Sheriff keeper Maksym Koval, but dusted it down thoughtfully.
“He didn’t give up,” commented ten Hag on his attacking man’s 90-minute performance, “he hasn’t done that in his whole career. And in the end he got the reward for it.” That was also true in terms of the atmosphere: while there had been a few boos from the home fans mixed in with the cheers when his name was read out before kick-off, all was well again with his goal at the latest.
Cristiano Ronaldo affirms: “We stand together!”
“A great team performance and a good win,” Cristiano Ronaldo himself wrote on Instagram, insisting: “We stand together!” Ten Hag suspended him last week after he refused to be substituted in the Premier League home win over Tottenham (2-0) and disappeared into the catacombs before the final whistle.
Although the circumstances on Thursday rather did not suit his self-image – an unloved competition with an unattractive opponent – CR7 appeared chastened on the pitch. “The team kept putting him in good positions, and he put himself in good positions, too,” ten Hag noted with satisfaction.
“Clown” Antony: Ten Hag announces “correction “
Polarised had another this time. Antony, who came from Ajax Amsterdam in the summer for almost 100 million euros, kept putting on show performances, culminating in a scene during the first half: on the right wing, he took a ball – and spun around twice with it completely unchallenged.
The fans celebrated it, TV pundit Paul Scholes angrily called Antony a “clown”. And ten Hag? The coach first insisted that he had not substituted the 22-year-old Brazilian at the break because of that, that had been “more or less planned”. His diplomatic verdict: “I have no problem with tricks as long as they are expedient. If you don’t lose the ball, it’s okay, but if it’s a trick for the sake of a trick, then I’ll correct it.”
That’s exactly what Antony is likely to do: his 720-degree turn did United no good whatsoever – his following through pass went out of bounds.