Rio Ferdinand reacts to Cristiano Ronaldo’s Man United winner

Rio Ferdinand has his say after Cristiano Ronaldo fired Man United to a dramatic 2-1 win over Villarreal

Rio Ferdinand
Rio Ferdinand (Photo: BT Sport)

Rio Ferdinand described Cristiano Ronaldo as a “big moment” player after the Portugal international scored a dramatic winner for Manchester United against Villarreal.

The attacker scored with virtually the last kick of the game at Old Trafford as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men wrapped up a 2-1 win in their Champions League group-stage clash on Wednesday night.

Ronaldo, 36, has been in fine goal-scoring form for the Red Devils since his return to the club in August and despite not performing at his best during Wednesday’s game, he once again delivered when it mattered.

Ferdinand played alongside Ronaldo during his first spell at the club before his transfer to Real Madrid in the summer of 2009.

And the former Manchester United defender lavished praise on Ronaldo for the way he delivered once again, despite neither he nor the Red Devils playing at their best.

Speaking on BT Sport after Wednesday’s game, Ferdinand said: “He [Ronaldo] texted me tonight saying: ‘I didn’t play well but I knew I’d score’. That’s the belief that he has. The other players are feeding off it. It’s a great place to be.

“United’s performance today wasn’t great, it wasn’t at the level Ole wants it to be. But when you need a goal, a moment to galvanise the squad, the stadium, the fanbase, Cristiano Ronaldo steps up.

“He wants to be that guy the chance falls to. His goal record says it all. He’s there for the big moments. He’s a big part of that too.

“When you have a player like Cristiano Ronaldo, the players in the dressing room are given life. There’s a lease of life, belief, because they know if the chance comes, he will put them away.

“It gives you that ability to be relaxed. It was the biggest thing in our team. When you get under even more pressure and you can see the clock ticking, you don’t panic. We were very composed because we believed the chances would come.”

Ronaldo, who has now scored five goals in five games since his return to Manchester United, paid tribute to the home fans for the role they played in helping the Red Devils claim the three points.

“Sometimes the players, we try to do our job, to play good and score goals but sometimes it is not possible,” Ronaldo told MUTV.

“The fans have this role as well when the team is in a difficult moment, they need to push us. This is why I say and ask them if they can do that.

“They give us motivation to keep going and to keep running and keep believing. So, today, this is what we felt. We are so happy. A very important win and we are in a good way now.”

Ronaldo’s strike – which came in the 95th minute on Wednesday night – was the latest-ever winning goal for the Red Devils in the Champions League – surpassing the previous record set by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in the famous 1999 final victory.

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