The Premier League 100 club has opened its doors once again this season. Having welcomed the likes of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Raheem Sterling during the first half of the campaign, this illustrious club has now been joined by none other than Cristiano Ronaldo, one of the greatest Premier League icons of them all.
It has been a long time in the making – almost 20 years, in fact, but now in his second spell at Manchester United, the Portuguese icon has reached the latest milestone of an unmatched career with Premier League goal number 100. Having originally arrived in England way back in 2003 as a fresh-faced 18-year-old from Sporting CP, Ronaldo’s goals have sealed memorable victories, won titles, and made him an Old Trafford legend. Although the Manchester United of today are nowhere near the force they were back when Ronaldo first wore the red and white, the now-37-year-old has still managed to bag 16 league goals so far this season, an exceptional tally given his age and United’s poor form.
The best 5 Cristiano Ronaldo goals
From a century of strikes, here are five of Cristiano Ronaldo’s defining goals in a Manchester United shirt.
1. First goal: Vs Portsmouth (1st November 2003)
It was in the late summer of 2003 when Ronaldo first set foot on the Old Trafford pitch, a player of whom great things were expected when he was instantly given the iconic #7 shirt.
Having gradually settled into the United team, the forward soon notched his first league goal in early November. With the Red Devils 1-0 up at home to Portsmouth, Ronaldo stood over a free-kick on the left wing, and his wicked low delivery into the penalty area evaded everyone including Pompey goalkeeper Shaka Hislop to nestle into the right-hand corner of the net.
The free-kick helped to steer his side to a comfortable 3-0 victory, the first of four league goals that Ronaldo would score for United in a promising first season at the club.
2. 100th goal: Vs Arsenal (23rd April 2022)
Having left Manchester for Madrid in 2009, it would be a full 12 years between Ronaldo’s 84th and 85th Premier League goals, a moment that came soon after the Portugal captain stunned the footballing world by returning to Old Trafford in August 2021.
From that point onwards, reaching the century was only a matter of time, and the milestone was eventually achieved last weekend in a clash against old rivals Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium. With the Red Devils 2-0 down, Nemanja Matic swung in a cross from the left that Ronaldo met ahead of a hesitant Aaron Ramsdale for a simple finish.
The strike was in vain, though, as Arsenal gradually reasserted their control on the game and emerged as 3-1 winners, effectively ending United’s top four hopes.
Ronaldo’s fate for next season is anyone’s guess, but for now the veteran is still delivering the goods and doing everything he can for this deflated United team.
3. Best goal: Vs Portsmouth (11th February 2006)
Where to start with this one? Amidst the century of Premier League goals attributed to Cristiano Ronaldo’s name, there is a countless array of stunners as you would probably expect, notably several trademark free-kicks.
However, his finest strike in English football did not come from a free-kick, but instead from open play in a clash against Portsmouth way back in 2006 at Fratton Park. United again found themselves 1-0 up against Pompey, and with Ronaldo driving forwards and the backline dropping off, the number 7 smashed home a rocket of a shot on his weaker left side from more than 30 yards out to put his side two up.
The pure power and movement on the strike beat goalkeeper Dean Kiely, and inspired the away side to a 3-1 victory. Having arrived shortly after his 21st birthday, this was another defining moment in Ronaldo’s early career that cemented his status as a rising star.
4. Most important goal: Vs Wigan Athletic (11th May 2008)
The 2007-08 campaign has understandably gone down in Manchester United folklore having ended with a Premier League and Champions’ League double. The battle for the title was one that went right down to the wire, with Ronaldo’s 31 league goals the driving force behind the triumph, including one on the crucial final day of the season against Wigan Athletic.
With United and Chelsea level on points ahead of the final day, anything less than a win for the Red Devils would have risked losing the title to their fierce rivals. On a tense May afternoon, Ronaldo made his mark for United once again by firing home a penalty following a foul on Wayne Rooney, settling his team’s nerves and equalling the individual record for Premier League goals in a season in the process.
It was a crucial moment that ultimately decided the season in United’s favour, the team eventually securing a 2-0 victory at the DW stadium to clinch the title with Chelsea faltering to a draw, finishing two points behind United as the Old Trafford side claimed back-to-back Premier League trophies.
5. Most memorable goal: Vs Portsmouth (30th January 2008)
Ronaldo seems to have a knack for scoring notable goals against Portsmouth, doesn’t he? With goals against the South Coast side from 2003 and 2006 already on this list, we move on to 2008 for the final one of these goals, which is undoubtedly one of the most recognisable and replayed goals in Premier League history.
Having already netted in the first ten minutes to put his side in the lead, Ronaldo was on the scoresheet again almost immediately with a sublime free-kick. After setting the ball down in a perfect position 30 yards from goal in a central-right position, Ronaldo hit an arrow of a strike straight into the top corner of David James’ goal, the goalkeeper barely moving as the inch-perfect shot flew past him.
From the purposeful run-up, to the satisfying camera angles and the euphoric goal celebration, it isn’t difficult to see why this goal has been shown so much through the years, a strike epitomising the very best of Cristiano Ronaldo at Manchester United.
Manchester City and England fan. Writer of opinion and features on all things Premier League and beyond.