Ferguson hails Ronaldo's return

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Sir Alex Ferguson last night praised Cristiano Ronaldo for the way he handled his first Manchester United match since his World Cup controversies.

Ronaldo played 72 minutes of the 4-1 win over Oxford at the Kassam Stadium, scoring with two fine curling efforts either side of half-time. Although he was booed every time he touched the ball by the home fans, the winger did receive the backing of the United supporters and was able to raise a smile as he entered the pitch for the start of the second half.

"It was Cristiano's first game back and I thought he handled it very well," Ferguson said. "He took his goals very well. They were both great strikes and he got a terrific reception from the United fans as well and, all in all, he did very well."

The striker Louis Saha and defender Mikaël Silvestre completed the full 90 minutes and full-back Gabriel Heinze lasted just short of an hour.

Wayne Rooney and Paul Scholes will be free to face Fulham on 20 August, even though they still remain unsure whether they will have to serve suspensions for their recent red cards in the win over Porto in the Amsterdam Tournament.

The Football Association is still waiting to hear from the Dutch FA and as no punishment can be imposed until 14 days after the FA receives the referee's report, both Rooney and Scholes are free to play in United's Premiership opener and, in all probability, against Charlton four days later.