MANCHESTER, United Kingdom: Cristiano Ronaldo played 45 minutes as he made his first Manchester United appearance in 12 weeks in a 1-1 pre-season draw with Rayo Vallecano at Old Trafford and later said: “It’s nice to be back here.”
The 37-year-old Portuguese striker, who did not participate in his club’s pre-season tour to Thailand and Australia due to personal reasons, reportedly wants to leave the club he joined last year.
The former Real Madrid and Juventus star finished the season as United’s top scorer last season with 24 goals.
But the campaign as a whole was a huge disappointment for the club with a sixth place finish in the Premier League meaning they missed out on Champions League qualification.
Ronaldo was also not with the United squad in a friendly against Atletico Madrid in Oslo yesterday.
However, responding to supporters’ comments about him not playing in Norway, Ronaldo said last Friday: “Domingo o rei joga” which means “Sunday the king will play.”
Ronaldo greeted the presence of both supporters as he led the team today.
After the match, Ronaldo uploaded a picture of himself playing on Twitter with the words “Happy to be back.”
New United manager Erik ten Hag told the club’s website: “It’s a mix of experienced players and youngsters (today).
“You see a really great character, a spirit to work together. They fight and work for each other. That’s a positive sign.”
New signings Christian Eriksen and Lisandro Martinez each played an hour in Ten Hag’s planned match for players who were not given a chance in Saturday’s 1-0 defeat at the hands of Atletico.