Ranking Cristiano Ronaldo’s 15 free-kick goals for Manchester United

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Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates after scoring for Manchester United against Portsmouth,. Old Trafford, January 2008

While he’s lost the title in recent years, Manchester United striker Cristiano Ronaldo was once regarded as the best free-kick taker in the world.

Ronaldo scored 14 free-kick goals during his first spell at United between 2003 and 2009 and famously developed the ‘knuckleball’ technique.

He’s scored one more free-kick for the club since his return in 2021 – against Norwich in the Premier League – and we’ve ranked his 15 free-kick goals for United from worst to best.

15. Manchester City, May 2009

Unsurprisingly, Ronaldo’s last goal from his first spell at United was a direct free-kick.

But his free-kick against City wasn’t one of his best. The ball deflected off the wall and Shay Given got a hand to it before it hit the back of the net.

14. Norwich City, April 2022

After seemingly losing his ability to score free-kicks, Ronaldo stunned Old Trafford with this strike against Norwich.

But goalkeeper Tim Krul does manage to get his hands on the ball and should probably keep it out.

 

13. Newcastle, January 2008

Admittedly, the goalkeeper should do better as the ball ends up near the middle of the goal.

But we have to admire Ronaldo for doing his trademark run-up before hitting his effort under the wall.

Newcastle clearly needed a draught excluder behind that wall.

12. Stoke City, November 2008

A seven-man wall? That’s no problem for Ronaldo.

11. Portsmouth, November 2003

While the Portsmouth players waited for the ball to be crossed into the box, Ronaldo took everybody by surprise.

He drilled the ball low and hard towards the far post, prompting a bouncing effort that goalkeeper Shaka Hislop couldn’t keep out.

“Ronaldo’s goal has been coming because he has put some terrific balls into the box. He really hits them – he is a tremendous hitter of the dead ball,” Sir Alex Ferguson said after the game.

10. Aston Villa, April 2009

United’s win over Aston Villa in 2009 is best remembered as the game where Federico Macheda made his sensational debut. But Ronaldo also scored twice in that game, including an indirect free-kick in the first half. (And yes, before you ask, we’re counting it).

Despite being surrounded by a swarm of Villa players, he still managed to pick his spot and fire the ball beyond Brad Friedel’s reach. 

9. Stoke City, November 2008

Ronaldo scored six free-kick goals for United in the 2008-09 season and the first of those came in the third minute of a 5-0 win over Stoke City.

While the ball did move in the area, goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen will probably feel that he should have saved it.

8. Bolton, March 2008

After being fouled by Bolton’s Abdoulaye Meite, Ronaldo picked himself up off the floor and immediately made the Bolton defender regret it.

The winger, who was wearing the captain’s armband, produced a strike that appeared to contravene the laws of physics – rising, dipping and swerving over a six-man wall to leave Ali Al-Habsi clutching thin air.

7. Portsmouth, November 2006

One of three free-kick goals against Portsmouth, Ronaldo relied on sheer power on this occasion and the ball flew past David James.

Blink and you’ll miss it.

6. Sporting, November 2007

After failing to score a free-kick goal for Sporting, Ronaldo decided to show his former club what he’d learnt during his time at Old Trafford.

Goalkeeper Rui Patricio was left bewildered by the swerving free-kick and Ronaldo nonchalantly celebrated his last-minute winner for United.

5. Fulham, February 2006

During United’s Premier League game against Fulham in 2006, Ronaldo sent three efforts into row Z before saving his best till last. 

The Portugal international fired a sensational strike into the top corner, leaving Fulham keeper Antti Niemi completely rooted to the spot.

4. Blackburn, February 2009

After United won a free-kick by the left-hand edge of the penalty area, Blackburn probably weren’t too worried due to the acute angle.

Ronaldo probably only had one spot to aim at – the top right-hand corner of Paul Robinson’s net – but he managed to find it with staggering precision. 

3. Sunderland, December 2007

The fact that this ridiculous strike doesn’t even make the top two speaks volumes…

2. Arsenal, May 2009

“It’s too far for Ronaldo to think about it,” commentator Clive Tyldesley famously said during United’s Champions League semi-final against Arsenal.

Seconds later, the Portugal international made him look rather foolish.

1. Portsmouth, January 2008

There was only ever going to be one winner…

Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo scores his second goal of the game against Portsmouth, Old Trafford, 30 January 2008

READ: Cristiano Ronaldo, his Pompey FK & a decade of trying to top perfection


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