We’ve normally reserved “watches” for American stars making big-day starts, but Cristiano Ronaldo’s big return to Old Trafford is a tremendously-hyped occasion for sure.
The Manchester United man, 36, scored twice in his reintroduction to Red Devils supporters, putting himself in good positions on numerous occasions after shaking off some early nerves.
[ MORE: Recap, three things we learned ]
In fact, all of the Man United players looked a little too eager to set up the Portuguese early only to see a settled unit cruise in the second half (after shockingly looking at a 1-1 score line early in the second 45).
Paul Pogba might’ve been the actual Man of the Match on any other day, but Ronaldo is Ronaldo and boy was he Ronaldo on Saturday.
Cristiano Ronaldo Watch: How “Siu” re-debuted at Old Trafford
3rd minute: His first touch is a very short pass, cheered loudly by Old Trafford, and hsi second touch doesn’t arrive as he misses a wild header bid.
4th minute: Works a 1-2 with Jadon Sancho, and eventually fails to settle a Sancho entry pass into the box after a slight deflection makes its too difficult to tame 12 yards from the goal line.
9th minute: Another deflected service sees Ronaldo opt for the sensational and find it too much, mishitting a side volley wide from an acute angle.
11th minute: A dribble into the box gets too close to the end line, and “CR7” smashes into the outside of the goal. He’s buzzing and very lively, but a bit off-kilter in the moment.
17th minute: Gets the ball on a Mason Greenwood-sprung break but his first touch pass is into the feet of the closest Magpie.
23rd minute: Newcastle’s counterattack has shown some threat, but Man United is getting just a little frustrated by the fine margins with with their possession dominance is failing to produce shots on Freddie Woodman. Ronaldo’s had a few fancy moves on the periphery in recent minutes.
30th minute: Ronaldo takes good work from Sancho and a shot-pass is hit toward Sancho’s foot only for the attempted redirect to a bit too slight to find the frame.
35th minute: Penalty? Surely not, but the Portuguese is on the ground in the box off a challenge by Jamaal Lascelles and you never know if the man’s reputation could lead to the benefit of the doubt. It doesn’t.
44th minute: And there it is, aided to a massive extent by Newcastle goalkeeper Freddie Woodman’s fumbling of a slightly-deflected shot from outside the box. Credit Ronaldo for rushing to the doorstep like a hungry rookie, and it’s the simplest of finishes for 1-0.
HT: Don’t ever forget how much megastars open up the field for everyone else, as the attention Newcastle paid Ronaldo was apparent from Moment No. 1. One goal on five shots, 34 touches, 0-of-3 on duels but nobody’s perfect.
58th minute: It’s level at 1 through Javier Manquillo when Ronaldo makes two incisive passes on the left, both managed by Newcastle as Old Trafford find itself surprisingly level.
62nd minute: He’s got another, and Woodman has again been very poor. Ronaldo sprints onto a terrific pass from Luke Shaw, but Manquillio gives Ronaldo only one option. That doesn’t matter, as a spinning shot from eight yards away goes through the legs of the Magpies’ third-choice keeper to give Man United another great moment.
65th minute on: Ronaldo continued to demand attention but it became more about Pogba and Bruno Fernandes from here on-in (And to be fair it might’v been plenty about them for the first 65 minutes on any other occasion). Considering this was the first time this group hit the pitch together and that Marcus Rashford is still out with injury and that Raphael Varane looks World XI so far at Old Trafford, United has to be thought of in the highest of title potential this season.
FT stats: 90 minutes, two goals on six shots (two on target), 62 touches, one key pass, 0-for-4 in duels. All he does is shoot and score goals. But that’s important.