Cristiano Ronaldo returned to scoring ways as Manchester United eased to a 3-0 win over Sheriff Tiraspol at Old Trafford on Thursday.

Manchester United dominated the proceedings from the get-go. But the Red Devils had to bide their time as Sheriff Tiraspol sat deep and looked to absorb the pressure. The hosts should have broken the deadlock when Bruno Fernandes nodded the ball towards Cristiano Ronaldo, who missed a simple tap-in.

Manchester United continued to search for the opening goal, which came through an unlikely source in the 44th minute. Diogo Dalot met Christian Eriksen’s corner before glancing his header into the back of the net. Manchester United remained on top after the break but again had to remain patient before scoring.

Ronaldo had a few chances coming his way but was either wasteful or drifted into an offside position. But Manchester United duly doubled the advantage midway through the second half as Marcus Rashford nodded in a powerful cross by Luke Shaw. And Ronaldo rounded off the win in the 81st minute.

The Portuguese striker met Bruno Fernandes’s looping cross, but Maksym Koval saved his header. However, Ronaldo made no error in slotting in the rebound to complete a comfortable evening. The win keeps Manchester United three points behind Real Sociedad, meaning the group winner will be decided next week. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Erik ten Hag’s men.

David de Gea: 6/10

David de Gea earned the easiest clean sheet of his career, with Sheriff Tiraspol not managing a single shot in the game.

Diogo Dalot: 7/10

For the amount of time Dalot spent in the final third, he should have done better to create chances for his team. But while his output was sub-par, the Portuguese international eased the nerves by heading in from Christian Eriksen’s corner close to half-time. Dalot showed an intriguing facet to his game, one he should work on this season.

Victor Lindelof: 8/10

Lindelof, the player to watch in our preview, was one of the standout performers for Manchester United on Thursday. The Swede, along with Eriksen, pulled the strings for his side, as he spent most of the game in the middle of the park. He also opened play nicely with a few long passes. Lindelof might start ahead of Harry Maguire again this weekend.

Lisandro Martinez: 7/10

Martinez enjoyed his most comfortable outing thus far for Manchester United. The Argentine defender completed most of his attempted passes while even creating a couple of half-chances. He earned a deserved rest at the break, with Harry Maguire replacing him.

Tyrell Malacia: 6/10

Malacia started at left-back in place of Shaw but did not justify his selection. Considering his team dominated the proceedings, he did not carry as much threat as he should have. The Dutch full-back did complete all his crosses but should do more to nail down his spot.

Casemiro: 7/10

Casemiro was comfortable in the middle of the park as Sheriff Tiraspol did not threaten much. The Brazilian international kept it simple and looked to win the ball high up the pitch. And he earned an early rest when Scott McTominay replaced him in the second half.

Christian Eriksen: 8/10

Eriksen ran the show for Manchester United on Thursday, completing 105 passes with a 91 per cent success rate. The Dane also played six key passes while grabbing the assist for the opener. He is on top of his game right now and proving to be a brilliant signing for Manchester United.

Antony: 6/10

Antony had a bizarre outing as he managed only one shot, which was easy save for Maksym Koval. And with the game goalless, he he inexplicably indulged in some unnecessary showboating. The Brazilian went off at the break, with Marcus Rashford replacing him.

Bruno Fernandes: 7/10

Bruno Fernandes was the creator-in-chief for Manchester United on Thursday. And he did so without losing the ball cheaply on many occasions. The Portuguese international maintained a 92 per cent passing rate while creating three big chances. And while he ended the night without a direct goal contribution, he deserved at least one assist.

Alejandro Garnacho: 7/10

Garnacho earned rave reviews from ten Hag as he earned his first start for Manchester United. And the teenage prodigy was a bundle of energy in the final third and always looked to take the Sheriff defenders on. While the Argentine was not faultless and lost the ball carelessly a few times, he did well to create space for his teammates with his directness.

Cristiano Ronaldo: 7/10

For around 80 minutes, it seemed Ronaldo would end another game goalless after enduring many frustrations. The Portuguese striker misses sitters and needlessly drifted into offside positions. But Ronaldo had his goal in the 81st minute when he reacted quickly to a rebound off his header to round off the win for Manchester United.

SUBSTITUTES

Harry Maguire: 7/10

Maguire replaced Martinez at half-time and spent the second period exclusively in the opposition half. The Manchester United captain completed all but two of his attempted plays and showed his passing range. He will look to feature regularly until the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

Marcus Rashford: 7/10

Rashford interestingly reprised the no. 10 role after replacing Antony, with Bruno Fernandes moving to the right flank. The Englishman had a few sloppy moments on the ball but looked dangerous during the offensive phases. And Rashford doubled Manchester United’s lead by heading in from a Luke Shaw cross. He has now scored more goals than he did last season.

Luke Shaw: 7/10

Shaw came on for Dalot and took up the left flank. And the Englishman looked much better than Malacia, linking up nicely with Rashford, who he assisted for the second goal.

Scott McTominay: 6/10

McTominay produced a professional cameo after replacing Casemiro. He completed all his passes and came close to scoring while playing his part in the build-up to Rashford’s strike.

Donny van de Beek: N/A

Donny van de Beek marked his return from injury by replacing Garnacho in the 79th minute. But while he completed all his attempted passes, he did not get involved too much.

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