The Portuguese returned to the starting lineup for the Europa League match, scoring the game-winning goal in a 3-0 victory.
Manchester United defeated FC Sheriff on Thursday night to advance to the next round of the Europa League this season.
Diogo Dalot, Marcus Rashford, and Cristiano Ronaldo all registered on the scoresheet to ensure Erik ten Hag’s side is guaranteed at least second spot – although a two-goal margin of victory against Real Sociedad next week will confirm them as group winners.
For Ronaldo, the goal went some way to draw a line under recent events. He was absent from the squad against Chelsea after Ten Hag stood the Portuguese down following his refusal to come on as a substitute in a recent Premier League game against Tottenham. The 37-year-old has been restricted to a bit-part role this term but he found the net against the Moldovan champions.
He rose to meet a Bruno Fernandes cross and despite seeing his bullet header kept out by the Sheriff goalkeeper, he reacted quickest to rifle home the rebound.
That strike was only his third of the season but it proved to be his 15th goal of the calendar year and ensures a stunning statistic lives on for another year. It means he has now notched at least 15 goals in 18 successive years, stretching back to 2005.
Ten Hag, his manager, was impressed with the forward’s perseverance, saying: “He persisted, and the team persisted in putting him in the appropriate place. He kept going in order to put himself in the best possible position. He refused to give up. That is his entire career. That’s why he’s so good, and he deserves to be rewarded for it.”
Ronaldo will be looking to play as much as possible in the five United games remaining before the start of the winter World Cup.