MAN UTD 4, NEWCASTLE UNITED 1
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer labelled Cristiano Ronaldo as the best player of all time in his programme notes, and it is hard to argue against that description following his goalscoring return to Old Trafford.
The 36-year-old, who enjoyed six memorable seasons with the Reds between 2003-09, scored twice on his second debut on a remarkable day.
There were also strikes from Bruno Fernandes and Jesse Lingard as United went top of the Premier League with 10 points from their first four matches.
And the re-signing of Ronaldo has certainly provided a feel-good factor as it was a party atmosphere and far removed from four months ago and the toxic protests against club owners the Glazer family.
Ronaldo’s return provided the storyline as his brace took his total to the Reds to 120, 86 of which have been in the league.
And it was the 200th time in Ronaldo’s career that he has scored two or more goals with his career total at club and international level now standing at an incredible 787 goals.
These were also Ronaldo’s first league goals for the Reds for 12 years and 124 days since he scored in the derby against City in May 2009.
And at 36 years and 218 days, he became the oldest player to score in the league for the Reds since Ryan Giggs in February 2013 when he was 39 years and 86 days. Only Giggs and Paul Scholes have scored while older.
While Ronaldo will undoubtedly capture the headlines, Paul Pogba again starred with two further assists.
The Frenchman had provided seven in the first four league matches, a Premier League record as he has been revitalised and is arguably playing the finest football for the club.Embed from Getty Images
Solskjaer said: “The atmosphere has been electric since Cristiano signed 10 days ago.
“There were a lot of expectations on the team and him, and he delivered. He does what he does.
“Everyone was so focused, and he puts demands on himself and then on his team-mates and us. That is why he has achieved so much in his career.
“He is still a ruthless and clinical goalscorer, and still senses the big moments. He has developed into a miles better footballer than when he was here before.
Solskaer added he never considered not starting Ronaldo.
And of his partnership with Fernandes, he added: “Good players can always play together. They have a mutual respect and play for Portugal together.
Of the victory, Solakjaer said: “When you win a game you enjoy it. When you see fans being happy you really enjoy it. There were loads of expectations today. They all delivered.
“We have to deliver every time. That’s Manchester United. It doesn’t change.
“It’s too early for me to predict where we’ll end up. We have to be consistent and let’s see where we are.
“It’s changed [the atmosphere]. A few months back you think how it was here. This is what Man Utd supporters should feel like.”
Fernandes said: “Everyone knows what Cristiano Ronaldo brought for the club and we are really happy to have him. The most important, as he will say, is the result for the team. Good players can always play well together.
“We arrived at the end (of last season) with some mistakes but did really well. There has been an improvement in the club and now it is time to take the next step.”
“It was almost perfect if we did not concede. We are really happy and the performance in general was really good.
“Newcastle are really organised, defend well but we moved the ball quick and waited for the right moment to hit them.”
Newcastle manager Steve Bruce added: “That is the goalscoring instinct of a centre forward, where our defenders haven’t followed it in, and he is on the end to get a tap in and change the game.
“If there is a genuine superstar among everyone, then this kid is with what he has achieved. We have witnessed it again today. He is something else.”
Ronaldo made his first start since re-signing from Juventus last month.
He joined United’s other two major summer signings Raphael Varane and Jadon Sancho.
Solskjaer made two changes from the side that started the 1-0 win at Wolves on August 29, with Nemanja Matic also returning.
Daniel James, who started at Molineux, has since joined Leeds and Fred dropped to the bench.
Newcastle made four changes to the side that drew 2-2 with Southampton last time out.
Callum Wilson was out with a thigh injury. Joelinton was among those returning to the starting line-up.
It didn’t take long for Ronaldo to get into his stride as he had two ambitious goal attempts in the opening 10 minutes.
The first was an audacious shot on the turn from a tight angle following a poor headed clearance, but it was scuffed well wide.
Ronaldo then cut in from the left before flashing a shot into the side netting.
But it was another new boy who almost broke the deadlock when Varane’s headed narrowly wide from Luke Shaw’s corner.
And it was United’s David De Gea who was the first goalkeeper called into action diving low to his left to grasp a drive from Matt Ritchie.
Fernandes was determined not to be outdone as he tried a chip from his own half which only just cleared the crossbar before sending in a shot which flew past the upright.
The breakthrough came in the second of two added minutes at the end of the opening period as, who else but Ronaldo struck.
Mason Greenwood provided the assist as goalkeeper Freddie Woodman failed to hold his low drive and Ronaldo showed great anticipation to be first to the loose ball to slot home from four yards.
But the buoyant Reds’ fans were silenced when Newcastle equalised in the 56th minute against the run of play with a class counterattack
Ritchie burst down the left and played an inside pass to Allan Saint-Maximin who in turn released overlapping right wing back Javier Manquillo who drove home a shot across the face of goal.
United regained the lead six minutes later as Ronaldo struck again.
Shaw made a terrific drive forward and split the Newcastle defence with a brilliant pass to release Ronaldo whose fierce shot went through Woodman.
United made a first change midway through the half when Sancho was replaced by Jesse Lingard.
Newcastle remained a threat as Joelinton’s fierce drive was fisted over the bar by De Gea.
And it was a Portuguese monopoly as Fernandes made it 3-1 with 10 minutes left.
Pogba provided the assist as he squared a pass to Fernandes who found the top corner from the edge of the box with the goal of the game.
United made a double change with five minutes left as Fernandes and Greenwood made way for Anthony Martial and Donny van de Beek.
Lingard provided the gloss with a fourth goal in stoppage time after a neat passing move.
Pogba provided the assist with a pass which Martial dummied to release Lingard who fired high into the net from 12 yards.