The Sunday Mail
The first half was coming to a close when time lurched backwards at Old Trafford.
Mason Greenwood, the teenage forward who is a superstar in the making, cut in from the right and drilled a left-footed shot towards the Newcastle United goal.
It took a slight deflection and spilled from the hands of Freddie Woodman as he tried to gather it.
And as the ball rolled loose, a figure lurked.
Cristiano Ronaldo took a step forward, and he has probably never scored an easier goal, even in his magnificent career.
He moved towards the ball and caressed it into the empty net and United were ahead.
And so there was a new king in town, same as the old king.
And in that moment, it became evident again that when United signed Ronaldo from Juventus to seal his second coming at Old Trafford, they did not just buy one of the greatest football players the world has ever seen.
They managed an even more clever trick than that. They bought the past.
The last time Ronaldo wore these colours, United were only a year removed from winning the Champions League against Chelsea in Moscow.
They still had a few league titles left in them.
They had not yet been overwhelmed by the hegemony of Manchester City and Liverpool.
But the years since 2013 have been all about loss. Ronaldo has been brought back to banish loss.
The visitors’ goal came eleven minutes after the interval when Miguel Almiron turned beautifully away from his marker deep in his own half and hurtled forwards.
He squared the ball for Allan Saint-Maximin, who pushed it into the path of the overlapping Javier Manquillo and Manquillo lashed it past David de Gea.
Ronaldo was not discouraged. This was still going to be his story. He knew that.
And when Luke Shaw burst forward six minutes after the Newcastle equaliser, he played the ball to Ronaldo as he raced down the inside left channel.
Ronaldo took the ball in his stride, eased away from Isaac Hayden and drilled his shot through the legs of Woodman.
Old Trafford was beside itself. The years rolled away. It could have been 2003 again, when Ronaldo first graced this stage.
Bruno Fernandes scored a beautiful third and Jesse Lingard a clinical fourth to seal the victory but this was indisputably Ronaldo’s day.
He stayed on until the bitter end, of course.
It takes a brave manager to substitute him.
And as the fans – entire families sometimes, all dressed in their new number 7 shirts – streamed over the footbridge that crosses the railway line in the shadow of Old Trafford, the strains of the old song rose up to meet them.
‘Viva Ronaldo,’ the supporters queuing in long lines outside the Stretford End sang, ‘Viva Ronaldo, running down the wing, hear United sing, Viva Ronaldo.’
Time rolled backwards again and the memories flooded over everyone who was here the first time around.
The kid, impossibly upright and confident and poised, standing on the touchline with his socks hitched up over his knees, preparing for his Manchester United debut against Bolton Wanderers in 2003, and bewitching the crowd and his opponents with his mesmerising stepovers. — Dailymail
All the golden moments.
Pick whichever ones you want.
The towering header against Roma in the Stadio Olimpico that seemed to defy gravity, the turn and shot from 40 yards against Porto in the Estadio do Dragao, the header against Chelsea in the Champions League Final in Moscow in 2008 in the game that marked his crowning achievement for United.
Now he’s back.
Now he’s scoring again.
Now United are top of the league again.
For how long, nobody knows, but as he disappeared down the tunnel to the exultant cheers of the supporters, the sounds of another song blasted out over the loud speaker system.
“We’ve come a long, long way together,’ Fatboy Slim sang, ‘through the hard times and the good.
“I have to celebrate you baby, I have to praise you like I should. – Dailymail