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Page last updated at 18:57 GMT, Saturday, 15 November 2008

Man Utd 5-0 Stoke

By Russell Barder

Cristiano Ronaldo
Ronaldo's third minute free-kick was his 100th Man Utd goal

Cristiano Ronaldo's 100th Manchester United goal set his side on their way to an emphatic home win over Stoke.

The Portuguese winger smashed home a trademark free-kick from 25 yards before turning provider for Michael Carrick to fire in United's second.

Dimitar Berbatov volleyed home to extend the lead before 17-year-old Danny Welbeck marked his Premier League debut with a stunning strike.

Ronaldo sealed the win with his second, another expertly taken free-kick.

The three points were a fitting reward for manager Sir Alex Ferguson, who was celebrating 50 years in football after making his playing debut as a 16-year-old during Queens Park's 2-1 defeat at Stranraer on 15 November 1958.

United played with a verve the visitors never came to terms with and made light of the absence of injured Rio Ferdinand, Wayne Rooney and Ryan Giggs.

The game was barely two minutes old when a robust challenge from Amdy Faye on Tevez gave Ronaldo the type of chance he craves.

Ronaldo praises Welbeck performance

And the Portuguese winger duly stepped up and struck a blistering free-kick that dipped and swerved in front of Thomas Sorensen, who allowed the ball to slip through his grasp.

Ronaldo could have had a second soon after as United piled on the pressure, but Faye threw himself in the way of his rasping shot.

Stoke dug in and a trademark long throw from Rory Delap was headed towards his own goal by John O'Shea, only for Edwin van der Saar to claw the goalbound ball to safety.

United began to lose some of their early momentum, but Sorensen still had to be alert to deny Ji-Sung Park before Ronaldo tested the Danish keeper from distance.

Despite gaining some decent possession in attacking areas the visitors failed to create many chances and found themselves with a bigger mountain to climb when Carrick doubled United's lead just before the break.

The midfielder collected Ronaldo's pass on the edge of area and despite having four defenders around him, he managed to rifle home a left-footed shot from 16 yards.

After the break the home side looked to put the result beyond doubt and Berbatov did just that as he controlled a cross from Carlos Tevez and volleyed home.

Ronaldo was now running the show and twice tested the Stoke keeper from distance as United hunted a fourth before Tevez tried his luck and curled a shot narrowly wide.

It was damage limitation - Pulis

Faye was then involved in a confrontation with Ronaldo as the Portugal international aimed a kick at the Stoke midfielder, an incident missed by the officials.

Angolan international Manucho was introduced as a second half substitute by United but headed wide when unselfishly played in by Ronaldo before Berbatov saw an effort cleared off the line by Danny Higginbotham.

The fourth goal eventually came courtesy of Welbeck, another substitute brought on by Ferguson, who gave Sorensen no chance with a powerful shot from 25 yards.

Ronaldo then capped a fine individual and team performance with his second free-kick two minutes from time, struck past the left-hand edge of a badly positioned wall.

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson on the performance of Cristiano Ronaldo:
"That is nine for the season now. I am sure he will be into double figures very soon.

"Overall, he has scored 101 times in 253 appearances, which is an unbelievable return for a winger.

"He is back now that's for sure. We have been waiting for him to get a free-kick and the power he hit the first one with was very impressive."

Stoke City manager Tony Pulis:
"We were doing okay until United scored just before half-time.

"When they got another just afterwards, it killed us.

"We have done quite well against the other big clubs this season but once we had to chase the game, United just picked us off."

Man Utd: Van der Sar, O'Shea, Vidic, Evans, Evra, Ronaldo, Carrick, Fletcher (Gibson 63), Park (Welbeck 63), Tevez (Manucho 74), Berbatov.
Subs Not Used: Foster, Anderson, Nani, Rafael Da Silva.

Booked: Evra.

Goals: Ronaldo 3, Carrick 45, Berbatov 49, Welbeck 84, Ronaldo 89.

Stoke: Sorensen, Griffin (Wilkinson 79), Abdoulaye Faye, Shawcross, Higginbotham, Olofinjana (Cresswell 31), Diao, Amdy Faye, Delap, Fuller (Kitson 68), Sidibe.
Subs Not Used: Simonsen, Cort, Whelan, Tonge.

Booked: Fuller, Delap.

Att: 75,369

Ref: Peter Walton (Northamptonshire).

BBC Sport Player Rater man of the match: Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo on 8.23 (on 90 minutes)

Please note that you can still give the players marks out of 10 on BBC Sport's Player Rater after the match has finished.

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see also
Premier League as it happened
15 Nov 08 |  Premier League
Saturday's football photos
15 Nov 08 |  Football

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