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Cristiano Ronaldo ‘needed a goal,’ Man United boss Erik ten Hag says after Europa League win

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Erik ten Hag said Cristiano Ronaldo “needed a goal” after the Manchester United striker finally got his first of the season against Sheriff Tiraspol.

Ronaldo scored a penalty in the 2-0 win in Moldova as Ten Hag’s side got their first points on the board in the Europa League.

Man United player ratings from win over Sheriff
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It was the 37-year-old’s first goal in eight appearances this season and the 699th of his club career.

“Ronaldo needed that goal,” Ten Hag said. “Many times he came close [in the season so far], but he wanted that so much.

“We are happy for him, and the team wanted to bring him a goal. You know that Cristiano will score a penalty.”

Jadon Sancho got United’s first goal of the night just hours after learning he was not picked in the latest England squad for games against Italy and Germany.

The Nations League fixtures are Gareth Southgate’s last chance to watch his players in action before naming his squad for the World Cup, and Sancho’s omission will increase doubts about the 22-year-old’s involvement in the tournament in Qatar.

“I’m really pleased [for Jadon], another goal, and he scored already many goals in his pre-season, and I think he has three in the season,” Ten Hag said.

“He’s doing well. But I think there’s much more room for improvement for him, because he has so many skills. Bring him on the pitch when he has that belief, and he can improve even more.”

After losing their first Europa League game against Real Sociedad, United are up and running in the competition they won in 2017.

Ten Hag’s team don’t have a fixture at the weekend following the postponement of their game against Leeds. They next face Manchester City on Oct. 2 after the international break.

“It was a difficult start,” Ten Hag said about Thursday’s match. “The opponent played really direct, went for the second balls. And they won too many in the first minutes. But after a certain period we played better.

“Then you say we can play between the lines, we got depth to our game, and scored a great goal. Then we took total control of the game.”

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