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Cristiano Ronaldo scored his first goal of the season as Manchester United got their Europa League campaign up and running with a 2-0 win at Sheriff on Thursday.
Ronaldo, selected to lead the line as Erik ten Hag kept rotation to a minimum against the side that stunned Real Madrid in last season’s Champions League, drilled home a first-half penalty to make it 2-0 to United, after Jadon Sancho had opened the scoring.
LiveScore reports that having moved onto 699 club goals with his spot-kick, Ronaldo missed a chance to reach the 700 milestone after the break, but United produced a controlled performance to see out the victory.
United were in need of three points following last week’s home defeat to Real Sociedad in their opening Group E game.
Although Sheriff started well, United took the lead with their first real attack 17 minutes in when Sancho turned on Christian Eriksen’s pass and tucked a neat finish into the bottom-right corner.
Iyayi Atiemwen dragged wide of the bottom-left corner with David de Gea unsighted, before Stjepan Radeljic denied Sancho a second with a heroic goal-line clearance.
United were soon gifted an opportunity to double their lead by Patrick Kpozo, who was tempted into a foul by Diogo Dalot.
Ronaldo, who has had to settle for a substitute role in United’s last four Premier League matches, lashed his penalty straight down the middle.
Radeljic was again on hand to clear as Ronaldo attacked the back post after the break, before Rasheed Akanbi almost caught De Gea out with a sumptuous lob from long range.
Ronaldo side-footed wide of the top-right corner from 18 yards out as a chance for his 700th club goal went begging, though United had little trouble in sealing a fifth win in their last six outings.
While Ten Hag’s main focus will be on re-establishing United as Premier League contenders, the strong side he fielded on Thursday demonstrated his desire to bounce back from last week’s loss to La Real.
LivesScore noted that with Sheriff having picked up a win on matchday one, United’s triumph saw them retain their status as favourites to progress from the group.
Ten Hag, meanwhile, has lost just two of his 21 away matches in major competitions as a manager (W13 D6), against Getafe in February 2020 and Liverpool in December 2020