Jadon Sancho and Cristiano Ronaldo gave timely reminders of their value with both on target a Manchester United got their Europa League campaign back on track with a 2-0 victory at Moldovan side Sheriff Tiraspol on Thursday.
“Happy to score and help the team win! Three important points!” Ronaldo tweeted. It was Ronaldo’s first Europa League goal of his career. After failing to secure a transfer to a club in the Champions League — where he’s scored 141 goals — the Portugal striker had to settle for playing in the Europa League for the first time since 2002 with Sporting Lisbon.
Sancho, surprisingly left out of England’s squad, slotted in United’s opener in the 17th minute after receiving a pass from Christian Eriksen. Veteran Ronaldo, given a start by manager Erik ten Hag after being consigned to the bench in the opening weeks of the Premier League season, tucked away a 39th-minute penalty to claim his 699th club goal.
Sheriff, who downed Real Madrid in the Bernabeu in last season’s Champions League, offered an occasional threat but three-time European champions United were unruffled on their first ever trip to Moldova. Sancho said it was “unfortunate” not to be selected for England’s Nations League games, but said: “I have to just keep focussing on myself and keep on working hard, week in and week out.” United’s Premier League resurgence was interrupted by a lacklustre home defeat against Real Sociedad last week but they responded with a businesslike win in Chisinau where the match was played because of security concerns.
United joined Sheriff on three points in Group E with Real Sociedad topping the standings on six points after beating Omonia Nicosia 2-1. Ander Guevara gave the Spaniards the lead but Bruno levelled before Alexander Sorloth struck the winner. Feyenoord also registered their first points, crushing Sturm Graz 6-0. AS Roma scored three times in the second half to beat 10-man HJK Helsinki 3-0 in Group C — Andrea Belotti scoring his first Roma goal to seal the win.