Man Utd beat FC Sheriff: Five things we learned as Cristiano Ronaldo finally breaks duck

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Cristiano Ronaldo finally got his season up and running on Thursday night as Manchester United beat FC Sheriff 2-0 in Moldova. Jadon Sancho was also on the scoresheet as Erik ten Hag selected a strong side after losing last week’s Europa League opener against Real Sociedad. With the Red Devils heading into the international break, Express Sport takes you through five things we learned…

Sancho makes his point

The 22-year-old mounted the perfect response to being left out of Gareth Southgate’s England squad on Thursday. All eyes were on the Three Lions announcement several hours before United’s tie kicked off and there was no room for the former Borussia Dortmund star, despite places for the likes of Jack Grealish and Jarrod Bowen. 

Sancho let his feet do the talking in Moldova as he took Christian Eriksen’s pacey pass under his spell, chopped back onto his left foot and beat Maksym Koval with a tidy finish.

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Ten Hag makes Europa League statement

United’s opponents were overmatched on Thursday, but manager Ten Hag was in no mood to take any chances and made it clear that he is serious about this year’s Europa League. Rather than take the trip to Moldova as an opportunity to give run-outs to peripheral stars or youngsters, the former Ajax boss plumped for seasoned heavyweights who proved more than capable of doing the job. 

Ronaldo, Lisandro Martinez and Antony were all wheeled out by the Red Devils to fight for three points after losing their Europa opener at home to Real Sociedad last week. It remains to be seen if Omonia Nicosia get the same treatment on October 6. 

Antony yet to find rhythm

United fans will invariably have wanted to see more from Antony against FC Sheriff, with his £84million price tag bringing lofty expectations. The Brazilian was a passenger for much of the game, remaining isolated on the right-hand side and missing an opportunity to show supporters what he’s all about. 

That’s not to say there were no good moments. Antony’s quick free-kick to Ronaldo in the first half put the hosts under pressure and the customary backheel passes drew cheers from the crowd, but against opponents who he should, on paper, be able to run rings around, viewers who tuned in specifically to see his talent may have been left somewhat disappointed.  

United’s global reach on show

Despite travelling to about as far-flung a destination as the Europa League has to offer, United’s support wasn’t restricted to just the travelling fans. It seems that not all the native Moldovans were cheering for FC Sheriff as spots of red dotted all four stands of the Zimbru Stadium. 

On one hand, the spectacle showed how far-reaching United’s fanbase stretches, but it is also partly explained by the fact that the match wasn’t played on FC Sheriff’s home turf. Instead, UEFA moved the match to Chisinau due to security concerns. 



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