28th October, 2022
Cristiano Ronaldo will get more goals after netting on his return to Manchester United’s line-up says Erik ten Hag, who explained Antony’s early substitution in the 3-0 Europa League win over Sheriff was planned.
Ronaldo was dropped for the draw at Chelsea last time out following his refusal to appear as a substitute during the previous game against Tottenham but rounded off a routine 3-0 victory that secured the Red Devils’ top-two place in Group E.
It marked the Portuguese superstar’s first goal of the season at Old Trafford and Ten Hag, who saw Diego Dalot and Marcus Rashford also score, is sure there is more to come.
“Seeing Ronaldo get his goal was great,” Ten Hag said during his post-match interview with BT Sport. “He created, the team created for him, and we know he has the capability to finish. He needed a goal and now I’m confident there will be more goals.
“[The team’s performance] was okay. Of course, you hope you score in the first half hour, so it took a bit long, but we deserved that goal.
“The second half, we scored two more good goals from open play and I’m pleased with the clean sheet because we gave nothing away. It was a focused win.”
The United head coach also defended his decision to substitute Antony at half-time. With the game still goalless, the Brazil international came under scrutiny for showboating as he performed a double spin before sending his subsequent pass out of play.
When asked if the former Ajax winger was replaced for that incident, Ten Hag replied: “No. It was more or less planned if we were up.
“I wanted to see Marcus and Cristiano close together, and the dynamic on the right side.”
United must now beat Group E leaders Real Sociedad by two goals next week to advance to the last 16 while avoiding a potentially tricky play-off knockout-round clash with a team dropping from the Champions League.
Rashford, who scored his 99th goal for the club on Thursday, insists the Red Devils are relishing the task ahead.
Assessing the Sheriff victory, the England forward said: “Not getting the first goal quickly leads to a mix between frustration and calmness, you have to be calm to create chances and be clinical in taking them.
“Scoring before half-time was a big help, it allowed us to look for more goals and space, and we found them. It was about getting the job done.
“We have to go [to Real Sociedad] and score by two goals. We have to score goals but defend well. It is going to be a tough game, but looking forward to the challenge.”