Matchweek 4 of the 2021/22 Premier League season was played out over the weekend and both Manchester United and Chelsea fans were excited to see the returns of Cristiano Ronaldo and Romelu Lukaku on the pitches of Old Trafford and Stamford Bridge respectively. The two players marked their second home debuts with two goals to their name, as Manchester United saw off Newcastle United 4-1 while Chelsea thrashed Aston Villa 3-0.
Man United fans flock to Old Trafford on Saturday as the Red Devils took on the Toon Army of Newcastle, with the home crowd eager to see Ronaldo back in the Theatre of Dreams for the first time after his departure from the club twelve years ago.
Excitement reached all-time high as Ronaldo stepped onto the Old Trafford pitch behind both Jadon Sancho and Paul Pogba, with the Portuguese superstar making his trademark jumps prior to taking his place in the starting lineup.
Having scored 118 goals in 292 games in his first stint with United, Ronaldo marked the start of his second stint with a brace as he helped his team to a crushing 4-1 win over their opponents. The 36-year old legend reopened his United account with a simple tap-in that went beyond the reaches of Newcastle goalie Freddie Woodman, right at the stroke of half-time.
After Javier Manquillo had given Newcastle hope with his 56th minute equalizer, Ronaldo restored United’s lead in the 62nd minute with a low shot that went through Woodman’s legs, before Bruno Fernandes and Jesse Lingard killed the game off later on.
With plenty of United fans wearing jerseys and scarves bearing Ronaldo’s name and his legendary number 7, Old Trafford was still in party mode well after full-time, cheering on as Ronaldo did his post-match interviews.
“It is unbelievable. I swear that I was nervous when I started this game,” said Ronaldo, as quoted from BBC Sport, “I did not expect that they would sing my name all game.”
Co-chairman Avram Glazer and executive director Ed Woodward, much maligned by the United fanbase, were present in the director’s box for United’s second debut. The two were instrumental in securing Ronaldo’s return to Old Trafford from Juventus, in a move that might somewhat redeem them in the eyes of the fanbase.
However, the man who played the biggest role in convincing Ronaldo to return to United was Sir Alex Ferguson. The legendary former United manager was also present in Saturday’s match, watching on proudly as the Portuguese superstar worked his magic at Newcastle’s expense.
There was also an air of homecoming in Saturday’s late kick-off as Chelsea host Aston Villa at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel elected to once again start Romelu Lukaku up front, allowing the Belgian to experience his second debut in Stamford Bridge.
Having failed to score in any of his 14 Chelsea appearances at the Bridge in his first stint, it only took Lukaku 15 minutes to bag his first ever Stamford Bridge goal, which was the Belgian’s second goal from his first three matches in his second Chelsea stint.
A beautiful link-up play between Mateo Kovacic and Lukaku saw the former spraying out a through pass towards the latter, before Villa’s stand-in goalie Jed Steer was easily beaten by the former Everton, Manchester United, and Inter Milan striker.
A boyhood Chelsea fan, Lukaku showed that he’s a Blue through and through in his celebration, kissing the Chelsea badge as he wheeled away in jubilation.
After Kovacic had seized upon a Tyrone Mings back-pass to double Chelsea’s advantage in the 49th minute, Lukaku placed the icing on an emphatic Chelsea win in the 3rd minute of injury time, driving home a Cesar Azpilicueta ball past Steer to seal the win for the Blues.
“It’s my dream since I was 11,” Lukaku said about his brace after the match, as quoted from BBC Sport, “I’ve worked hard for this moment.”