Ferdinand and Solskjaer hail Ronaldo for doing the hardest job in football

Manchester United s Cristiano Ronaldo and manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
Manchester United s Cristiano Ronaldo and manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer - IMAGO / PA Images

Former Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand has hailed Cristiano Ronaldo for doing the hardest job in football.

The Portuguese scored two goals for United in their 2-2 draw with Atalanta in the Champions League on Tuesday to ensure that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men remain in pole position to qualify for the next round.

His second goal on the night made it five goals for Ronaldo in the Champions League this season and was also his ninth goal in all competitions for United since joining in the summer. 

Despite the 36-year-old’s goal return, people have often criticised him for being lazy and unable to defend from the front. 

But his former teammate Ferdinand has defended him, while also praising him for always delivering when it mattered.  

Speaking to BT Sport after the game, Ferdinand said; 

“People say [Cristiano Ronaldo] doesn’t work hard enough, but he does the hardest thing in the game – score goals”.

“At that critical moment, he steps up – in any country, in any stadium, at any time. He just arrives on the biggest occasions and delivers.

“There aren’t any more words that we can say about this guy than the way he puts the ball in the back of the net.”

The Red Devils fell behind twice in the game, first through a Josip Ilicic strike in the 12th minute and again through Duvan Zapata ten minutes after the restart. But Ronaldo equalised both goals for United to ensure that the Old Trafford side have control of their Champions league futures.

Meanwhile, Manchester United coach Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was full of praise for Ronaldo, labelling his technique for his second goal ‘phenomenal’.

“If there is anyone you want that chance to fall to, it’s him. Solskjaer said after the game.

“His technique was just phenomenal.”

Ronaldo has been criticised for not working harder for the team, but Solskjaer added: 

“I’m sure the Chicago Bulls didn’t mind having Michael Jordan, either.

“We all have a role and responsibilities. Cristiano is a leader in the group and that’s what he does. He scores goals. He does provide those moments. He’s getting better, and he’s feeling up to speed now.”

The Norwegian also praised his players for fighting back again two weeks after a 3-2 comeback win over Atalanta at Old Trafford.

“No one can question the character of these players,’ he said. ‘They don’t give up and they don’t give in. We had to make a few changes, and they worked.”

Ronaldo also revealed how happy he was to be on the score sheet again late in the game, claiming he and his teammates believed that they would get a point despite being behind for much of the game.

“I was a little bit lucky to score the first goal, but I helped my team and I am so happy,” Ronaldo said. 

“We never gave up, and we believed until the end.

“In the beginning, it was tough, and we knew they would put us under a lot of pressure, but we dealt with it well. We still have to improve, but we will adapt. We have time and it will come.”