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Featured Image Credit: Image: Europa League & Alamy
Cristiano Ronaldo was incredibly wasteful on his first ever Europa League appearance on Thursday night.
The five-time Ballon d'Or winner was handed just his second start of the season for Manchester United, who slipped to a 1-0 loss to Real Sociedad at Old Trafford.
Brais Mendez scored the only goal of the game from the spot after a penalty was controversially given for handball against Lisandro Martinez.
£70 million signing Casemiro was handed his first United start, while Ronaldo led the line for the first time since the 4-0 defeat to Brentford.
But the Portuguese superstar could not get off the mark for the new season despite a number of opportunities.
He found himself clear in behind in the 13th minute but his touch was off and the opposition defenders recovered well.
Cristiano Ronaldo vs Real Sociedad 22/23 (H)— Nolo (@NoloFCB) September 8, 2022
But apparently he doesn't get enough chances. I run out of words to describe how overrated this guy is.pic.twitter.com/uvrEtyHKwL
The 37-year-old had the same issue not long after when Christian Eriksen slipped him in, while he was also strangely slack with his heading ability from crosses.
Ronaldo did have the ball in the net when his header beat Alex Remiro but he had strayed offside and so the goal was chalked off.
He hit the wall from free-kick and also could only put the ball wide from a smart Fred-cut-back.
It wasn't as if Real Madrid's record goalscorer didn't have good quality service, he just didn't make the most of it and spurned plenty of chances.
And Ronaldo was subject to plenty of brutal comments on social media from fans after a disappointing display:
He’s absolutely finished. Only his fanboys disagree https://t.co/zFIThfN2xt— Deji. (@Dejii4PF_) September 9, 2022
He's finished but him and his fans are not ready to accept it and its killing the team. https://t.co/BSVvE13Yf8— ♆ (@HashtagKunal) September 9, 2022
But Im supposed to believe he doesnt get service https://t.co/jsm8abcOzZ— cibijs #GlazersOut (@mufccibijs) September 9, 2022
Ronaldo stans are calling these ‘half chances’ when he couldn’t convert because he has a horrible touch lool Martial and Rashford would get d3ath threats for missing these chances https://t.co/cRxmt63hSW— Jaswin (@Jaswin23) September 9, 2022
this is actually sad he’s completely finished https://t.co/XYIO4cg8eu— Jack💫 (@jackcostello) September 9, 2022
This is why I am not that bothered about yesterday's game. A good striker scores a hat-trick here. We didn't play our best but could've easily put the game to bed in the first half https://t.co/B0tD7HxyAb— Shihab (@Shihab06) September 9, 2022
Haaland scores every one of these https://t.co/zqnNMkhWcA— James (@JameswinterMCFC) September 9, 2022
Former Liverpool player Steve Nicol was critical of Ronaldo's performance and says he is looking every bit his age nowadays.
"I’ll be honest, when you mention the game, the only thing I have in my head is Ronaldo clean through [on goal] and getting caught by two players, Nicol said on ESPN FC.
"That’s kind of what springs to my mind. And he did have another look.
"He had a couple of other chances, not as good as that one, but there was just something missing.
"That’s what I think about when I think of this game. There wasn’t much in it between the two sides, not that many chances in the game.
"But that’s the only thing I can think of. The fact that Ronaldo was clean through and looked every one of those 36, 37 years."
Prior to the defeat to La Real, United had won four straight games, with the likes of Jadon Sancho, Marcus Rashford, Antony and Anthony Elanga all performing well for Erik ten Hag's side.