Presumed World Player of the Year Cristiano Ronaldo made his 2008-09 season debut today coming on as a second-half substitute in Manchester United's 0-0 home draw to Villareal in the first Group E matchday of the Champions League. Ronaldo missed about the first month of the season after ankle surgery following Euro 2008.
The superstar's return is a nice lift to the club as its main shirt sponsor -- AIG -- teeters on the brink of a Wall Street collapse.
Ronaldo nearly set up a goal for United nearly ten minutes after coming on in the 62nd, threading a pass to Wayne Rooney, who then centered a ball for Carlos Tevez. The Argentine's touch was a little off and the Villareal keeper snuffed it out. Ronaldo played more centrally than usual and did have at least one header go wide of target.
United's best chance was when defender Rio Ferdinand found himself unmarked in the penalty area on a corner, but fluffed his chance. In the 83rd minute seldom used Johnny Evans made a lunging header to the far post, but it clanked off the woodwork.
In case you were wondering, American teenager Jozy Altidore did not feature for the Yellow Submarine. In fact he wasn't on the substitutes' bench. Villareal was also without top strikers Giuseppe Rossi and Nihat.
It was the third straight scoreless draw for the two teams in Champions League competitions.
Manchester United needs to work out the kinks quickly, as it goes to Stamford Bridge to play Chelsea on Sunday.