Ronaldo on target for United

August 8, 2006

Sir Alex Ferguson praised Cristiano Ronaldo for the way he handled his first Manchester United outing since his World Cup controversies.

Ronaldo lasted 72 minutes of the 4-1 win over Oxford at the Kassam Stadium, netting with two fine curling efforts either side of half-time.

Although he was booed every time he touched the ball by the home fans, the Portugal winger did receive the wholehearted backing of the United supporters and was able to raise a smile as he entered the pitch for the start of the second half.

'It was Cristiano's first game back and I thought he handled it very well,' said Ferguson.

'He took his goals very well. They were both great strikes and he got a terrific reception from the United supporters as well and all in all, he did very well.'

With no police inside the stadium and security beefed up as a result of United heading south with a squad containing nine internationals rather than the reserve team which was originally anticipated when the fixture was agreed earlier in the summer, fears over Ronaldo's security - this evening at least - appear to have been exaggerated.

If the reception he received tonight is any guide, the Portugal winger may require a pair of ear plugs at some of the Premiership's more hostile venues this season.

However, he also has the talent to win some of his critics round and he succeeded in doing just that with his superb 14th-minute volley.

Teed up by Louis Saha's cushioned lay-off, Ronaldo produced an exquisite right-foot finish, which started off wide of Billy Turley's far post before curling in.

With no histrionics, and few of his trademark tricks, this was Ronaldo on his best behaviour and he made his mark again after the interval, rifling a 20-yard shot into the bottom corner after David Jones had provided the short pass.

He departed to a heroes' reception from the United support and a mixed one from the Oxford fans, receiving handshakes from Ferguson and home boss Jim Smith before taking his place in the dug-out, content at his positive contribution.

In fact, after the disasters which afflicted them in Amsterdam over the weekend, it was a good night all round for the visitors.

Saha and Mikael Silvestre completed the full 90 minutes and Gabriel Heinze lasted just short of an hour.

'It was important to get the remaining World Cup players back into the game,' said Ferguson.

'Louis and Mikael did not play as much in Germany as Gaby and Cristiano, which is why I kept them on for the full game.'

John O'Shea picked up a slight knock but should be available for Saturday's final friendly against Sevilla, as will Wayne Rooney, who suffered a slight groin strain in training yesterday.

Oxford boss Jim Smith shook Ronaldo's hand as the winger made his way off the pitch and condemned his own supporters for their treatment of the player.

'You expect him to get booed at places like Liverpool and Manchester City but to come here and hear that is a bit disrespectful really,' he said.

'Whatever happened at the World Cup as regards Wayne Rooney has happened now. I think most continental players would have done exactly the same thing.

'It wasn't his fault Wayne Rooney got sent off. Overall, I thought Ronaldo was one of the outstanding players at the World Cup and tonight, he showed everyone what a quality player he is.'