Cristiano Ronaldo News

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Ronaldo praised for his courage

25/08/2006 14:14, Report by Ben Hibbs

Sir Alex Ferguson has been impressed by the courage shown by Cristiano Ronaldo in the face of animosity from opposition fans – declaring that the 21-year-old winger has been “fantastic” and “courageous”.

Ronaldo has become the pantomime villain at away grounds around the country with fans treating the Portuguese winger as the scapegoat for England’s World Cup exit.

Sir Alex never doubted that Ronaldo would react in a positive way. He said: “Cristiano has been fantastic. But I’m not surprised at all. In fact, I’d have put my life on him playing well. He’s got fantastic courage and belief in himself and he is improving.”

The United boss has witnessed, first hand, the kind of abuse Ronaldo has had to contend with.

“On Wednesday I watched a fan up and down, screaming and shouting and bawling at Cristiano,” he said. “He didn’t watch the game at all for the first ten minutes. He must have had a bad Portuguese meal one time.

“Eventually it was mumbles at the end, exactly what I thought would happen. He got fed up, his throat got sore.

“Great players always get it,” he added. “It’s about having the courage not to be intimidated by it and take the game to the opponent. That’s what he does. I don’t think he relishes [the reaction he gets] but he isn’t intimidated by it. He has got real character.”

Friday, August 25, 2006

“I am at Manchester, heart and soul”

Cristiano Ronaldo passed his first test of whistling “with a lot of concentration”

“There’s only one Ronaldo”. The chant was repeated endlessly by the Manchester United fan during the game against Charlton, but mostly at the end, when the Portuguese player shifted the bench to thank his supporters. He closed his fist, beat his chest on the United emblem, and was delirious. I was saying to them that they are here, inside. I wanted to thank them in a clear way for all the support they gave me, and that they particularly gave me in this game, and I told them that I am at Manchester in heart and soul”, explained Cristiano Ronaldo to Gestifute Media, moments before leaving The Valley.

During the game, whistles were heard. Cristiano knew this would happen. “It’s a phenomenon that’s going to happen every time we play away, but I’m calm”, he assured. But still with a vivid experience of this night, his first test which he ended up passing with distinction. “I concentrated hard on the game and the moment the whistling started I tried to make sure that it was nothing to do with me, that is, I tried to think just about the game”, he justified. Of course the noise reached his ears. “I had to hear it, I’m not deaf”, he joked, before saying that he ended up blocking his ears and dedicating himself exclusively to the game.

A game which mirrored the superiority of Manchester throughout the 90 minutes and that ended with the team of Cristiano Ronaldo having an advantage over their rivals Chelsea (who lost yesterday). “In the first half we hit the post, and the crossbar [this with his own right foot], but we never stopped believing that victory was possible”, recorded the player who Gestifute represent, recognising that the slip-up by Chelsea “was important”, given that Manchester United now has a points advantage. “We are going to keep playing as we have been because this season will be even longer than last season, and we know that the title is a long way off”.

At the individual level, Cristiano Ronaldo felt better in this second match, and promised “to get better with each game that goes by”, of which his next starts next Saturday. “Everything should keep going as well with these first two games” is the biggest wish of the player who, tonight, practically silenced The Valley.

When whistles did the opposite

Gestifute Media was in London and saw Cristiano Ronaldo shine

One shot onto the bar, participation in two moves that the woodwork blocked, some more shots and his normal enchanting dancing way of making gaps. That was Cristiano Ronaldo’s game in London, the first away from Old Trafford since the “Rooney story”. Whistles were heard, of course whistles were heard, but the “kid who is a great player”, as Ferguson said, seemed to have blocked his ears with cotton wool. He took the game on, he always asked for the ball, he nearly always got it, he treated it with affection, as usual, and he helped his team mates, ran, crossed, shot, and played a lot. So much so that he was the best on the pitch. The whistles started to sound like the roar of a lion, at the start. But as time passed by, they changed into cats purrs, until they ended completely. “Cristiano, well, he was simply fantastic”, praised Alex Ferguson at the end. The stands were quiet, because they understood that you can’t feel full of polemic when the centre of attention is a predestined.

Manchester United beat Charlton 3-0, with goals from Fletcher, Saha and Solskjaer. Ronaldo didn’t score any. But he could have scored, if the crossbar hadn’t stopped a spectacular shot in the first half, just two minutes before the end. Now whistles could not be heard. The speed of Ronaldo was so great, that he beat anyone who wasn’t ready for it, pulled out of midfield, received the ball from Saha, raced to outside the area and shot superbly. The bar stopped it. The stands, which were suddenly silenced, showed the relief of the Charlton fans.

Much earlier, it was understood that they were waiting for Cristiano Ronaldo. The stands at The Valley were still considerably empty when Manchester United came out to warm up. It was twenty-five to seven. Cristiano Ronaldo was the last-but-one out of the tunnel. Calmly, even when he started to hear the first boos. Indifferent to them, he did his exercise without seeming to notice, and without any sign of nerves. This was confirmed a little later when he showed off a few artistic tricks, juggling acts with the ball which very few know how to do.

At 7.35, with Manchester United still warming up, the speaker announced the line-ups. Can you guess who was the only one to get a chorus of whistles? Cristiano Ronaldo, of course. He stayed calm out on the filed. Ten minutes before kick-off, Manchester United headed for the tunnel. The Portuguese player was one of the last. On one side a lot of applause from the Manchester fans; on the other side that which had been predicted: whistles were the order of the day.

The teams went on to the pitch. Cristiano Ronaldo was the last, behind Saha. He got the same reception he had had earlier. He was impassive. He heard it, but he ignored it, he told Gestifute Media later.

The rain started to fall more heavily, the game started, and 40 seconds later Cristiano Ronaldo got his first touch. A huge noise filled the stadium, except for the part behind Van der Sar’s goal, a stand which was completely full of Manchester United fans, on a state of alert: : “the only Ronaldo” was being booed and they were there to defend their kid from the chants and chants of abuse. With singing that started with “Ronaldo plays on the left, Ronaldo play’s on the right, he’s the best” and continued with some pinpricks at Beckham, completely overtaken by this young Portuguese player who Gestifute represent.

Cristiano Ronaldo got the ball frequently. He ran forward, went to the line, recovered, go the ball back, shot. It was weak, but there was a certainty in the magic feet, and the fans showed signs of panic, which then turned into signs of joy. He, “that one”, the special, had shot to the side. He, that one, finished playing on the wings, first on the right, then on the left, swapping with Park, then with Giggs playing in support of Saha in this game in which Rooney suffered the first of his three suspended games.

It was a rare occasion for the ball not to be passed to the feet of Cristiano. He heard the whistles, but he ignored them and, far from hiding from the game, started slowly to show more things. Minute 22: the number nine started his feet dancing. Ball under one leg, foot over the ball, he zigzagged and when he tried to make a diagonal move into the area he was stopped with a foul. A great move, without recognition from the harshest fans. Ronaldo had won the free kick, but it was Giggs who struck the ball - against the post. Cristiano put his head in his hands. The best chance of the game had been missed.

Every two minutes Ronaldo had the ball at his feet - getting past his opponent, supporting his colleagues, shooting. There was always a great frisson in the stands. There was a lot of happiness when the ball went over or to the side and a worry when it was at his feet. . Minute 35: Cristiano went past two opponents. Whistles, which were now less intense, then silence. Only when his pass was intercepted did the happiness show itself. Whistles once again, because he had toe-punted into the corner. After that, a great move which plunged the stadium into complete silence (43’), and only the smack of the ball could be heard when his shot hit the crossbar. It would have been an absolutely fantastic goal, but it wasn’t to be. Charlton breathed, and they breathed again a little later when Cristiano jumped high above all the others, and headed, but connected with the top of the net. Half time came. He was the first into the tunnel, with no reaction from the fans.

The same Cristiano Ronaldo came out for the second half – involved, majestic, elegant and authoritative. But the whistles didn’t return; they started to get weaker every time the forward touched the ball. The joke wasn’t funny any more, concluded some of the local supporters. He plays a lot, nothing to do about it. It was a little later that a ball went from his feet to Fletcher, who in the middle of a lot of attention from the home defence opened the scoring.

The game was now being run by United. The game was now being run by Cristiano Ronaldo. A touch with the heel, that merited the silence in the stadium, a cross, one more great ball, for Park to strike against the post, after 57 minutes. Another cross which the goalkeeper Carson had to punch clear. The whistles were now practically inexistent. And the same occurred after the second and third United goals (80’ and 89’) and after some more tricks from the lad who had a great game, who is a great player, and really is a phenomenon.

It ended, naturally, with a victory for Manchester. And with Cristiano Ronaldo passing, with distinction, his first test away from home. But some fans told Gestifute Media that Charlton is a friendly club, quiet and not very aggressive. The worst welcome will be those in the meetings with the most direct adversaries, such as Arsenal, Chelsea or Liverpool. Nothing that Cristiano Ronaldo will lose sleep over, though. A man with this sort of football in his feet doesn’t fear anybody. He does his business. When he entered the tunnel in the direction of the changing rooms one or other of Charlton’s English fans insisted on whistling. But Cristiano was above it. He adopted a humble posture dropping his shoulders slightly, and applauded the stadium. There was silence. This time it was definitive.

Recognition for the support he felt throughout the game turned into personal thanks when the game finished. Cristiano Ronaldo headed for the stand where hundreds of Manchester United fans were sitting, closed his fist, thumped his chest a number of times, on the club’s crest, close to his heart. “There’s only one Ronaldo”, was heard time and again from the stand “I wanted to thank them in a clear way” Ronaldo justified, a little later, to Gestifute Media. And so he confirmed his devotion to the club, at which he has become one of the most emblematic idols.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

It's time for the photos of the Charlton Match

Report: Charlton 0 United 3

23/08/2006 20:59, Report by Steve Bartram

Goals from Darren Fletcher, Louis Saha and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer gave United their second win of the season at the expense of Charlton Athletic.

The second-half strikes ruined Iain Dowie's first home game in charge of the Addicks and kept United on top of the Premiership table.

A fluid attacking performance from United could have yielded plenty more goals, and made a mockery of pre-match trepidation fuelled by the absence of Wayne Rooney and Paul Scholes.

Skipper Gary Neville was also absent, having failed to recover from his persistent calf injury in time to lead his side and forcing Sir Alex Ferguson to field a back four of Brown, Silvestre, Ferdinand and Evra.

The high-profile absence of Rooney and Scholes prompted the inclusion of Darren Fletcher and Ji-sung Park, while new signing Michael Carrick was a surprising - yet highly welcomed - face on the United bench.

Charlton themselves were hit by a suspension, with new signing Djimi Traore replaced by Jonathan Fortune in defence.

On a rain-sodden pitch and with the home contingent audibly buoyed by the absence of Rooney and Scholes, United's early game plan was to remain neat and tidy.

Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink scuffed a volley well wide from outside the area, but United were content to sit back and keep their opponents at arm's length.
When it did come, in the 22nd minute, the Reds' first chance fell to Ji-sung Park, who rose well to head Wes Brown's cross powerfully wide.
Moments later the South Korean was in the thick of the action again, this time drawing a solid save from Scott Carson in the Addicks goal after the home defence went AWOL.

United were clearly in the ascendancy, and they were within a whisker of moving into the lead just two minutes later. After Ronaldo had been felled on the edge of the area by Luke Young, Ryan Giggs whipped a magnificent free-kick against the inside of Carson's near-post and watched in disbelief as the ball bounced to safety.

After a comical series of slips and scuffs from Evra, Ferdinand and finally Silvestre, Darren Ambrose's effort was deflected away for a corner. In a continuation of United's unconvincing defensive play, Silvestre escaped a penalty appeal for a lunging challenge on Hreidarsson.

The see-saw nature of the game continued, with neither side clearly on top. Cristiano Ronaldo, predictably booed throughout by the Addicks faithful, battled defiantly but provoked further derision by blazing a long-range free-kick over the bar on 35 minutes.

Giggs again came close to scoring three minutes before the interval. Having emulated his young Portuguese colleague with a fleet-footed stepover, the veteran saw his curling right-footed effort brilliantly turned away by Carson.
United's next close call had nothing to do with the intervention of the on-loan Liverpool stopper, however. Saha fed Ronaldo 20 yards out, and his unstoppable right-footed shot almost snapped the crossbar before hurtling back into play.

Ronaldo came close again before half-time, heading over the bar from Giggs' corner as United somehow went into the interval only level.Parity didn't last long after the break. After Darren Ambrose had clipped the outside of Edwin van der Sar's post with a long-range drive, United moved ahead.

Ronaldo's right-wing cross looked set to be cleared by Jonathan Fortune, but his slip presented Darren Fletcher with the ball 10 yards from goal.

The Scottish midfielder displayed remarkable assuredness in feigning to shoot twice before lashing beyond Carson for his first goal since his famous matchwinner against Chelsea last season.

Ronaldo almost had another assist on 54 minutes, but again United found themselves denied by the woodwork. Park acrobatically volleyed the ball goalwards from Ronaldo's left-wing cross and Carson was left rooted as the shot cannoned away to safety.

For all their dominance United were still only one goal to the good, and the narrow nature of their lead was underlined when Charlton were denied a penalty just after the hour.

Wes Brown's outstretched arm made the faintest of connections to a Charlton corner, but it was still enough to put Hreidarsson off his header.
Referee Chris Foy waved play on, however, and United were allowed a huge let-off.

It was a rare blip in United's dominance and they threatened again shortly afterwards, this time as Giggs' corner was headed goalwards by Saha, only for Ambrose to clear off the line.

United continued to press, but their fragile lead was exposed again as Darren Bent exchanged passes with namesake Marcus before firing wide on 72 minutes.

Carrick made his debut, replacing Ji-sung Park in the 77th minute and moving into the centre of midfield as Giggs moved out to the left wing, and within two minutes United had made the points safe.

Brown crossed from the left for Saha, whose chest control gave him time to turn and, following a mix-up in the Charlton defence, the space to hammer a low, 20-yard shot inside the far post.

It was the Frenchman's second goal in four days following his header against Fulham, and his final action of the night as he was replaced by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

Soon after his introduction, the Norwegian was denied a first goal since September 2003 as Carson lunged across an open goal to prevent Solskjaer rounding off great approach play from Carrick and Ronaldo.

Solskjaer was not to be denied his moment of glory, however, and he sidefooted powerfully home after good work from Saha down the left.

It sparked pandemonium among the United following, not only because the revered striker had ended his drought, but because they had seen a thoroughly impressive United display.

With six points from six and a goal difference of seven already, the signs are that United have heeded Sir Alex's call for a blistering start to the season.

Charlton Athletic: Carson, Young, El Karkouri, Fortune, Hreidarsson, Hughes, Holland, Faye, Ambrose, Hasselbaink (M Bent, 65), D Bent.
United: Van der Sar, Brown, Silvestre, Ferdinand, Evra, Fletcher, O'Shea, Ronaldo, Giggs (Solskjaer, 82), Saha, Park (Carrick, 77).


Wednesday, August 23, 2006

“At home it was easy; we’ll see when we play away”

Cristiano Ronaldo was cheered, scored a goal and participated in two more, and spoke to Gestifute Media

Old Trafford showed its highest support as always for United’s start in the Premier League. But it also gave Cristiano Ronaldo its full support, after all it written during the World Cup, when Portugal beat England and Rooney was sent off. “Today was good, the game went very well, I got a great reception, the crowd was very happy”, said the Gestifute Media player, shortly after millions of people saw, with their own eyes, Ronaldo and Rooney embrace out on the pitch. “The truth is that nothing happened, nothing”, he underlined. “This home game went very well, everything was calm, it was easy, we will see what happens when we play away” he added, without creating false illusions: “I know that the next away game people will put more pressure on me, because it will be the first, but I’m ok, I want to show off my football and help my team to get a win”.

necessary to protect Cristiano Ronaldo and that the young player, who Gestifute represent, is mentally strong and capable of coping with adversity, such as those created by the English in the World Cup. Cristiano Ronaldo proved his manager right, and at the end Ferguson didn’t spare his eulogies. “They [Cristiano and Rooney] combined on many occasions. You could say they were the best of team mates. People are always trying to find weaknesses, but even the Fulham fans applauded Ronaldo at the end. I think they understand that the kid is a great player”, said Alex Ferguson. Cristiano Ronaldo thanked his manager. “I was very happy with these words”, he commented. “Because of that, I am always going to try my best in all the games”, he added.

The truth is that the Premier League start could not have gone better, and in these things it is “very important to set off on the right foot” in the championship. But it wasn’t only Manchester United who had a brilliant start, beating Fulham 5-1 with three goals scored after only 16 minutes. Cristiano Ronaldo also began the competition in full power, not just with the great game he played but also with the goal that he scored in the 20th minute. “The goal was very important”, he recognised. “Particularly since this was the first official game of the season”, he explained, adding, however, that this Cristiano Ronaldo is still not the best that the world will see. “I am still not a hundred per cent, because the season is just beginning and I started work late, due to the World Cup, but I am sure that I am going to continue to work and improve myself and so that in two or three games I will be at my best”.

Within three days, Cristiano Ronaldo will have a test of fine, when he goes to London for the game against Charlton, which will be the first match away from home. The “kid who is a great player”, as Ferguson said, knows what to expect, but he is not going to be intimidated, as he wasn’t, also, by a similar experience in the last two matches that Portugal competed in, in the World Cup in Germany. “Of course the whistles are a bit wearing”, he recognises. “The away games are going to be complicated, the one against Charlton will be the first, but I am going to take the chance to distance myself from it, and try to do my best. We will see what happens”.

Independently of the events on Wednesday, Cristiano Ronaldo is prepared for what will come, and is thinking about just one thing: “Winning”. “We are confident, we are only thinking about three points, we need to be more consistent than last season and we will take the title”. The young player believes that this year will finally be the year in which he can celebrate the winning of a great competition in the Manchester United shirt. “I believe that every year we can go further than the previous year, and so I hope that this year is our season and we can win the League”, he finished.

Premier League starts well


The Premier league could not have started better for the Portuguese who Gestifute represent. Chelsea, with José Mourinho, Ricardo Carvalho, Paulo Ferreira and Hilário (who was on the substitutes bench), beat Manchester City 3-0; Portsmouth, with Pedro Mendes, got the same result yesterday, against Blackburn Rovers; Manchester United, with Cristiano Ronaldo, hammered Fulham 5-1.

We played very well, maybe even better than we expected, the team started very well, pressed forward and didn’t give Manchester City the chance to control the game”, confirmed José Mourinho at the end of a match in which Paulo Ferreira and Ricardo Carvalho played 90 minutes at their usual level, that is, very well. In fact, it was as a result of a foul committed on Paulo Ferreira that John Terry opened the scoring in the tenth minute of the game.
At Old Trafford, Cristiano Ronaldo played 90 minutes, Manchester United won 5-1, and the Portuguese player didn’t just score a goal (the fourth), but also took part in the build up to two others.

Also yesterday, Pedro Mendes played in Portsmouth’s 3-0 victory against Blackburn Rovers, playing the whole of the match, and with the quality that makes him one of the essential parts of the team from the south of England.

Results of the first round:
Manchester United-Fulham, 5-1 (Saha, 7’; Ian Pearce, 14’, na p.b.; Wayne Rooney, 16’ e 64’; Cristiano Ronaldo 19’, Rio Ferdinand, 40’, na p.b.) Chelsea-Manchester City, 3-0 (John Terry, 10’; Lampard, 25’; Drogba, 78’)
Portsmouth-Blackburn, 3-0 (Todorov, 26’; Kanu, 62’ e 84’) Sheffield United-Liverpool, 1-1 (Hulse, 46’; Fowler, 70’)Arsenal-Aston Villa, 1-1 (Gilberto Silva, 84’; Mellberg, 53’) Everton-Watford, 2-1 (Johnson, 15’; Arteta, 82’, de g.p, Francis, 90’) Newcastle-Wigan, 2-1 (Scott Parker, 38’; Ameobi, 64’; Lee McCulloch, 59’)Reading-Middlesbrough, 3-2 (Kitson, 43’; Sidwell, 44; Lita, 55; Downing, 11’; Yakubu, 21’) West Ham-Charlton, 3-1 (Zamora, 52’ e 66’; Carlton Cole, 90’; Bent, 15’, de g.p.) Bolton-Tottenham, 2-0 (Davies, 9’; Ivan Campo, 13’)

Ronaldo ready for Valley jeers

22/08/2006 15:03, Report by Steve Bartram

Cristiano Ronaldo expects a fiery reception when United travel to face Charlton on Wednesday night.

At home to Fulham, the Portuguese winger endured a muted sample of the abuse he can expect from opposing fans this term after England's World Cup exit.

And Ronaldo is well aware that he will come in for far rougher rides at away games, starting with United's midweek trip to The Valley.
He told The Sun: "The away games are going to be more complicated but I'm staying calm."

Ronaldo has been a target for opposing fans throughout his United career, and he plans to cope with any increased abuse by simply concentrating on his football.

"In the home game (against Fulham) everything went well, it was relaxed, easy," he said.

"But I do know the next game will be a lot more complicated as it's the first away one. I'll try to put it out of my mind and do my best."
Team-mate John O'Shea, meanwhile, has backed Ronaldo to use the terrace taunts as inspiration.

"I think he is up to the test," he said. "I think he will thrive on it. I have no fears about him whatsoever.

"It has always been the case, some players have been targeted after certain things. It seems to spur them on. The more they boo him, the better it will be for us.

"Soon enough, people will realise it will be better to leave him alone, then, I am sure it will die off."

Papers: FA defend Roon ban

22/08/2006 08:32, Report by Gemma Thompson

FA Chief Raps RooThe man who condemned Wayne Rooney to a three-match ban has hit back. Shropshire FA chairman Tom Farmer says he was right to punish Rooney for his red-card challenge on Porto defender Pepe. Farmer said: "We would have treated a Duncow Dynamos player exactly the same as someone like Wayne Rooney. We studied the video evidence many times frame by frame. There was no halfway point. It was either a three-game ban or nothing."Neil Custis, The Sun

Ahead of United's visit to Charlton, Luke Young is hoping Rooney’s ban will help him break his jinx against the Reds. The Charlton skipper has beaten every other side in the Premiership apart from United and he reckons he will never get a better chance than tomorrow.

The trip to Charlton will be Cristiano Ronaldo's first Premiership away game since the World Cup wink row. The Portuguese ace fears Addicks fans will target him over his part in England hero Wayne Rooney’s red card. "The away games are going to be more complicated but I’m staying calm," he said in The Sun. "I’ll try to put it out of my mind and do my best."

Meanwhile, midfield transfer target Owen Hargreaves has been ordered to shut his mouth by angry Bayern Munich chief Uli Hoeness, who insists the Canadian-born ace is not for sale at any price.In other news, the man who condemned Wayne Rooney to a three-match ban has hit back. Shropshire FA chairman Tom Farmer tells The Sun he was right to punish Rooney for his red-card challenge on Porto defender Pepe.

Finally, the Daily Star features quotes from Rooney who has urged his United team-mates to spread the goals around to help fill the void left by Ruud van Nistelrooy.


Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Official photocall on 21/08/06

Here are the official photocall. Is there any individual photo for Cristiano? Ya, I hope so.
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Monday, August 21, 2006

Report: United 5 Fulham 1

20/08/2006 14:17, Report by Ben Hibbs

United went top of the Premiership table on Sunday after Fulham were blown away by the Reds’ attacking potency in a breathtaking 5-1 win at Old Trafford.

A United and Premiership record crowd of 75,115 watched as the Reds, inspired by Rooney, Scholes and, in particular, Ronaldo, sent a message out to the rest of the league: United will be a force to be reckoned with this season.

Doubts about the team’s ability to get goals following Ruud van Nistelrooy’s departure to Real Madrid were called seriously into question as United’s slick, incisive and relentless attacking play tore into Fulham’s defence. Admittedly, the Cottagers, who won only once on the road last season, will not be United’s sternest test this term. But it was as good a start as Sir Alex Ferguson could have hoped for.

Predictably, Ronaldo’s every touch was met with boos from the away fans, but the welcome afforded to him by the home supporters leaves no doubt that the opinions of him that matter are favourable.

Up front Sir Alex went with what is likely to be his first-choice partnership of Wayne Rooney and Louis Saha, the results of which bore fruit after just eight minutes of the match. Ronaldo found Rooney on the right wing and his searching cross-field pass was flicked on by Saha to Ryan Giggs on the left. The Welshman fired the ball back into the box and Saha met it with a glancing header past Antti Niemi.

It sparked the Reds into a scintillating spell. In the next 11 minutes United went 4-0 up. After 14 minutes Ronaldo slid a pass out to Saha and the Frenchman curled in a dangerous low cross. Rooney challenged for the ball, but in trying to block the United striker, Fulham defender Ian Pearce turned the ball into his own net.

The bombardment continued. Gary Neville took advantage of Fulham’s sleeping defence and crossed the ball deep for Saha. His acrobatic volley was palmed away by Niemi, but Rooney followed up the rebound to make it 3-0. Rooney then turned provider, crossing deep from the left, wonderfully picking out Ronaldo’s run to the far post. The 21-year-old winger met the ball as it hit the ground and smashed a half volley into the roof of the net.

United’s football showed no sign of summer rust. Scholes orchestrated from the middle, Ronaldo terrorised from both flanks and through centre, Rooney took up any and every unoccupied spot, and Saha’s pace, power and aerial strength frightened the life out of Fulham’s back three.

The Reds have lost only three season openers under Sir Alex and are unbeaten at Old Trafford on the first day of the campaign in the Premiership. That record had all but been preserved in 20 minutes of dazzlingly forward play. Inevitably United’s tempo dropped. But Fulham still looked as though they needed something out of the ordinary to make any mark on the game, and they got it five minutes before half time. Heider Helguson struck a speculative left-footed shot from the edge of the box, which cannoned off Rio Ferdinand’s head and looped over Edwin van der Sar’s despairing reach.

The second half started on a sour note when Fulham midfielder Michael Brown should have been sent off five minutes after the restart. When Giggs slid in to keep the ball in play on the left, Brown went in two-footed on the Welsh winger. Somehow, Brown only received a yellow card. In retaliation – purely out of frustration that Brown was not shown a red card – Giggs clattered the Fulham man the next time he had the ball, which saw him also enter the book. Incidents such as Brown’s challenge wrangle more so when Rooney faces a three-match ban for a challenge significantly less serious.

But United soon returned to the free-flowing football that had gleaned such impressive results in the opening 45 minutes. The Reds introduced Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Ji-sung Park to refresh the team’s attacking options, but it was the usual suspects of Ronaldo and Rooney that brought about United’s fifth and final goal.

Ronaldo received the ball on the right from Scholes and threaded a neat pass between Fulham’s right-back and centre-half for Wes Brown to run onto. The United defender, moved to right-back after Neville was replaced by Mikael Silvestre at half time, intelligently located Rooney’s withdrawn position on the edge of the box and pulled the ball back. The United forward side-footed the ball home from 15 yards to complete the rout.

Ronaldo could have made it six after Rooney put him clean through with 20 minutes remaining, but the Portuguese winger fired his shot wide and the score remained a still very much impressive 5-1. Aside from the goals, United were solid in defence apart from the unavoidable blip for Fulham’s goal. And with Michael Carrick to return, and possibly another signing to arrive, the season promises much.

Team Line-ups
United: Van der Sar, Neville (c) (Silvestre, 46), Ferdinand, Brown, Evra, Ronaldo, O’Shea, Scholes, Giggs (Park, 61), Rooney, Saha (Solskjaer, 61).Subs not used: Kuszczak, Fletcher.
Fulham: Niemi, Pearce, Christanval, Queudrue, Rosenior, Diop, Brown (Radzinksi, 61), Bullard, Boa Morte (c), Helguson, John.Subs not used: Crossley (GK), Volz, Bocanegra, McBride.
Attendance: 75, 115 (United and Premiership record)
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Rooney praises Ronaldo display

Wayne Rooney hailed his on-field relationship with Cristiano Ronaldo after the pair inspired United to a 5-1 win over Fulham on Sunday.The 20-year-old striker scored two and played a part in the other three as the Reds recorded their biggest opening day win under Sir Alex Ferguson in front of a biggest ever Old Trafford crowd for a United match.

Newspaper reports after the World Cup claimed the hangover from the England-Portugal quarter final clash in Germany would affect their relationship, but they brushed aside any doubts with fine performances against Fulham.“It’s proved that people who have been saying things about us don’t know either of us,” Rooney told Sky Sports after the game.

“We let our football do the talking and I thought Cristiano was brilliant and he scored a great goal.”Rooney was pleased with the emphatic start to the season, but says the Reds must maintain their high standards.“Getting four goals in the first 20 minutes helped us relax a bit," he explained. "We wanted to get about them early on and we did that and managed to get four goals. I’m delighted to have scored two, and it’s great to create goals as well. “

Our main aim is the league and we’re pleased with the start we’ve made, but it’s early in the season so we know we have to continue like this.”Rooney, along with Paul Scholes, will now miss the next three games as a result of their red cards against FC Porto in the Amsterdam tournament. Rooney could not hide his disappointment at having to miss the matches against Charlton, Watford and Tottenham.

“Me and Scholesy are devastated to be suspended, especially after the start we’ve made,” he said. “It’s a big disappointment but we have to get on with it.” Posted by Picasa

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Rooney interview on Ronaldo

Skipper backs Ronaldo

18/08/2006 07:40, Report by Steve Bartram

Gary Neville insists he and his United team-mates will close ranks to protect under-fire Cristiano Ronaldo this season.
The Portuguese winger has attracted much criticism in England for his perceived attempt to have Wayne Rooney sent off at the World Cup.
Neville, however, is adamant that the 21-year-old star is merely the latest in a line of United players vilified by an English media used to pointing the finger of blame.
"I saw the incident after the game with Portugal. I saw exactly what happened with what Wayne did and I saw exactly what Cristiano's reaction was," Neville told Sky Sports News.

"I don't have a problem with Cristiano for that, I swapped shirts with him after that.

"The English will always come up with excuses and scapegoats for why they haven't won and this time it was Cristiano.

"The reason we lost the game was because Wayne got sent off, which he knows about, we didn't score the penalties and we didn't get the goal.

"It was nothing to do with Cristiano why we didn't win that tournament."

For Ronaldo this year, read David Beckham in 1998 and Phil Neville in 2000 as United players vilified after England's premature departure from a major tournament.

And the elder Neville is adamant that Ronaldo will benefit from the tight-knit United community in the same way as those before him.

"We always protect our own," said Gary. "Right the way back to David Beckham coming back from a tournament, my brother in 2000, it has always been the case where United will protect its own players.

"It happened again this summer with Cristiano and Wayne, but he is at the right place and he'll be protected by the manager, who is brilliant at doing that.

"The players will never have any problem. What happens in an international game has got nothing to do with what happens at Manchester United."

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