CRISTIANO RONALDO FLOUNDERS IN UNCOMFORTABLY LOW-KEY SURROUNDINGS
Cristiano Ronaldo’s entire career has been geared towards breaking records and making himself a global star, so there was something a little sad about watching the Champions League’s record appearance holder and goalscorer flounder against European minnows Omonia Nicosia in the Europa League. Man Utd’s 3-2 win in Cyprus was only the fifth time the 37-year-old has taken to the field in the competition – a perfect illustration of how he has operated at the highest level of European football for so long.
In fairness to Ronaldo, he didn’t turn his nose up at the opportunity to add to his monumental career goals tally against Omonia. In fact, he did all he could to find the net for just the second time in what is proving to be a frustrating season but, try as he might, the ball just wouldn’t go in.
The Portugal international had efforts saved by the goalkeeper, blocked by defenders, hit the side netting and fly over the bar as he shot with his right foot, his left foot, from close range and from long distance. Ronaldo even contrived to hit the post when Diogo Dalot presented him with a goal that was as good as open. It was a chance that he used to be able to score in his sleep.
So desperate was Ronaldo to score that the final five minutes in Cyprus turned into a team-wide effort to get him on the scoresheet, even though Man Utd were holding onto a precarious lead. In the 90th minute, Ronaldo ignored the wide open Anthony Martial in favour of going for goal himself but, inevitably at this point, powered his dipping effort wide.
Then, finally, it looked like Ronaldo would break his duck when Marcus Rashford spotted him lurking at the far post, ready to tap home his low cross. That was until Rashford shanked the pass, somehow missing his team-mate completely and extinguishing Ronaldo’s hopes of marking a rare start with a much-needed goal.