Top 5 Cristiano Ronaldo Manchester United goals

After we took an in-depth look at the goals that made up an iconic 2008 for Cristiano Ronaldo, we’re now going to reminisce about the top 5 Cristiano Ronaldo Manchester United goals of all time, which he netted across two spells at the club.

Cristiano Ronaldo Manchester United
Cristiano Ronaldo enjoyed great success at Manchester United – Photo by Icon Sport

Top 5 Cristiano Ronaldo Manchester United goals

For the sake of variety, we've gone for goals that weren't covered in the 2008 list, so if you want to relive the likes of his famous knuckleball free kick against Portsmouth at Old Trafford, this isn't the place. Rather, we're going to start off in the capital, on a chilly February afternoon in 2007 at Craven Cottage.

5. Solo slalom at Fulham

This is one of Ronaldo’s first truly great goals in a United shirt, and arguably set the wheels in motion for his first Ballon d'Or 22 months later.

United had fallen behind to an early goal from Brian McBride, and were looking nervously over their shoulders all game at Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea, who were just a few points behind with a game in hand.

Ryan Giggs equalised late in the first half, but United couldn’t find a way through in the second half. Until Ronaldo intervened.

Picking up the ball deep on the left-wing, Ronaldo turned and ran towards the Fulham goal. He didn’t stop running, leaving four players in his wake. When he arrived in the penalty area, he coolly dispatched his effort, hitting the ball hard and low into the bottom corner, winning the game for United with just a few minutes left.

Ronaldo single-handedly won United this game – Photo by Icon Sport

4. Thunderbolt hat-trick against Spurs

Manchester United endured a troubled 2021/22, finishing sixth despite heavy expenditure. One positive, however, was the romantic, if short-lived reunion with Cristiano Ronaldo, who returned from 12 seasons away with Real Madrid and Juventus. 

CR7 scored plenty of great goals, as he came third in the Premier League scoring chart. But his best came in a hat-trick against Spurs. Ronaldo put United ahead three times in this ding-dong 3-2 win at Old Trafford, but it was his first that was the most spectacular.

Finding a pocket of space 30 yards out, and with Eric Dier inexplicably backing off, Ronaldo let rip. His powerful strike bent perfectly past Hugo Lloris and nestled in the top left corner, sending the Stretford End into raptures.

Ronaldo developed a lot in 2005/06 – Photo by Icon Sport

3. Hammer strike at Fratton Park

Moving back to early in his United career, Ronaldo showed his left foot could be just as deadly as his right, with a rasping effort away to Portsmouth in February 2006. Ronaldo was still playing on the right wing in those days, deployed as a more traditional winger.

But he was beginning to wander infield more by this time, as he became ever more important to United. In this instance, CR7 latched onto a Ruud van Nistelrooy knock-down around 30 yards out. With defenders backing off the then-21-year-old, he decided to take a shot from range with his weaker left foot.

What a decision that turned out to be. Ronaldo cut across the ball ever so slightly as he smashed the ball towards the Portsmouth net, meaning it bent away veteran goalkeeper Dean Kiely.

Despite United failing to snatch the Premier League trophy back from Chelsea, Ronaldo had a real breakthrough season in 2005/06. He scored nine and assisted six in the Premier League, earning him his first spot in the PFA Team of the Year.

Ronaldo’s form led to Sir Alex Ferguson deciding to make him the main man of his next great United side, ironically spelling the demise of the man who set up this goal, Ruud van Nistelrooy.

Ronaldo took his iconic stance before unleashing an unstoppable free kick – Photo by Icon Sport

2. Free kick against Arsenal in a Champions League semi-final

Just missing out on our top spot is Ronaldo’s audacious free kick against United’s old rivals Arsenal in the 2009 Champions League semi-finals. At the Emirates Stadium, no less.

After setting up Ji-Sung Park’s opener, Ronaldo put the ball down around 35 yards from goal, almost on the right-wing. His teammates ambled into the penalty area, expecting a cross. But CR7 had other ideas.

As he struck it, iconic commentator Clive Tyldesley said “surely too far for Ronaldo to think about it.” But by the time he’d finished his sentence, the ball was already in the net, past the stranded Manuel Almunia in a flash.

Ronaldo’s strike was a vicious one, with the same ‘knuckle’ technique he had used to score another iconic free-kick against Portsmouth 15 months earlier. The movement on the ball when this kind of strike is pulled off makes it very hard for goalkeepers to anticipate its trajectory.

CR7 would go on to grab another goal in this game, and lead United to a 4-1 aggregate victory.

1. 40-yard stunner in Porto

Very few players can claim to have a Puskas award in their trophy cabinet, but Ronaldo can go one better, as he got the very first. Created by FIFA to recognise the greatest goal of a year, the Puskas award is named after the legendary Hungarian striker, Ferenc Puskas.

Ronaldo’s Puskas moment was against Porto in 2009, less than a month before his goal mentioned above. With United meandering through the midfield, Ronaldo drifted into a deeper and more central position to take matters into his own hands.

The Portuguese found a pocket of space around 40 yards, spotted Helton off his line and unleashed an incredible strike.

The veteran Brazilian goalkeeper was powerless to prevent Ronaldo’s thunderbolt from flashing past him. Not dissimilar to his Arsenal goal in technique, CR7’s strike was hit hard and flat, but his ‘knuckle’ technique made the ball almost wobble in the air.

United had drawn 2-2 at Old Trafford against the Portuguese heavyweights, and Ronaldo’s goal turned out to be an iconic winner.

William Evans is a football and politics fanatic. A first-class graduate of UEA's Broadcast and Digital Journalism MA course, he also achieved a first class degree in politics and media studies during his time at UEA.