REVEALED: How protesters disrupted Cristiano Ronaldo’s Man United second debut at Old Trafford over “unresolved rape allegations against” superstar

Cristiano Ronaldo’s return to Manchester United was met with a feminist protest in the sky above Old Trafford.

An expectant sell-out crowd chorused the 36-year-old’s name as he emerged from the tunnel ahead of a second debut for the club following last month’s £20 million move from Juventus.

Shortly after the Portuguese star’s entrance, a plane – organised by feminist campaign group Level Up – circled Old Trafford for much of the first half.

The aircraft flew over the stadium trailing a banner with the words ‘believe Kathryn Mayorga’, in reference to an ongoing civil case taken against Ronaldo in the United States, the Daily Mail report.

Kathryn Mayorga, 37, reported a rape allegation in the hours after meeting Ronaldo in Las Vegas during June 2009, the month in which Real Madrid parted with a then-world record £80m for his services.

A criminal investigation ended in 2019, with the Las Vegas police department stating that the allegation could not “be proven beyond reasonable doubt”.

Mayorga has a civil suit worth £56m which is ongoing. Ronaldo has strenuously denied the claims and branded them ‘fake news’.

Ronaldo seemed undeterred by the impassioned protest as he went on to score two goals in his comeback game, resulting in a 4-1 victory for Manchester United over Newcastle.

Mayorga, a former model is claiming £56million in damages – including £18m for her past ‘pain and suffering’, £18m for future “pain and suffering” and another £18m for punitive damages, court documents revealed in April.

Level Up say their demonstration was to highlight that “the football world remains silent over the claims whilst it fawns over Ronaldo’s return to Manchester United”.

“One of the world’s most famous athletes has been accused of rape, but there has been almost universal silence about it,” said Janey Starling, co-director of Level Up.

“Manchester United have not acknowledged that there are unresolved rape allegations against Ronaldo and are giving him a hero’s welcome.

“As a society, we can’t let a woman’s story of rape be silenced. It is an uncomfortable reality that people aren’t speaking out about.’

The Portugal star and his representatives agreed a £270,000 out-of-court settlement with Mayorga in 2010, which included the insertion of a non-disclosure agreement.

Mayorga since said that she was “mentally incapacitated” when signing the agreement. Ronaldo’s lawyers accepted that the settlement exists but insisted it was “by no means a confession of guilt”.

Starling added: “We stand in solidarity with Kathryn Mayorga, and every single survivor of sexual violence across the world. We’re sending a message of solidarity to all survivors who refuse to be silenced, and a message to football that rape allegations can’t be kicked off the pitch.”

Aston Villa boss Dean Smith reveals what he told Romelu Lukaku after defeat Stamford Bridge

Dean Smith has explained how he implored Chelsea match-winner Romelu Lukaku to have a week off as the Belgian made his side pay with his well-taken brace.

Lukaku opened the scoring against a brave and bullish Villa side before wrapping it up with the home side’s third in stoppage time.

Afterwards, the striker enjoyed a chat with Villa boss Smith, who said: “He was clinical. I just said couldn’t you have kept that thigh injury a little bit longer but, unfortunately, he said no and he said he was itching to play.”

Villa registered an impressive 18 shots on Chelsea’s goal compared to their 12 while they had six on target – two more than Thomas Tuchel’s side.

However, Lukaku capitalised after Mateo Kovacic carved Villa open before the Croatian made it two as he jumped on an error by Tyrone Mings after the break before Lukaku thumped home to make it 3-0.

Of his side’s performance, Smith said: “Up until the second goal I was really pleased with the performance and we asked a lot of questions of a really good team. We were the better team in the first half.

“Some of our football was excellent but the second goal killed the game. It felt unjust at the end. That second goal was the killer.

“I’m frustrated with the scoreline. I felt three goals was unjust. I feel that with the squad that we have available to me, we no longer have to have a deep block and look to counter attack like we did when we first got promoted. Now we can go and ask questions. The second goal just took the wind out of our sails while Ollie Watkins will wonder how he never scored.”

Smith added: “We had a gameplan coming into this game and every game will be different. We wanted to put pressure on and win the ball in their half and we created some good chances in doing that. Our centre-halves were on the front foot but we got done.

“We wanted to take the fight to Chelsea and, had we taken our moments, it might have been a different story.”

The manager was asked about referee Stuart Attwell’s display as Villa saw four players carded to Chelsea’s one.

“You have to be consistent with your decisions,” he said. “I have no problem with him booking Ramsey or Tyrone Mings but he’s got to be consistent if Chelsea are doing those fouls as well. For me, there were just too many inconsistencies.”

Lukaku reacts to his performance after Chelsea win over Aston Villa at Stamford Bridge

Chelsea striker Romelu Lukaku made a dream return to Stamford Bridge, scoring two goals and winning 3-0 in what he admits was a difficult game.

“They made life very difficult for us.

“We were clinical with the chances that we had.”

🗣”It was great.”

Romelu Lukaku loved playing at Stamford Bridge in front of the Chelsea fans.

— Football Daily (@footballdaily) September 11, 2021

The Belgian scored his first ever goals at the stadium either side of a Mateo Kovacic strike as Thomas Tuchel’s side maintained their unbeaten start to the season.

Lukaku stated: “It’s my dream since I was 11. I’ve worked hard for this moment.”

He added: “I was up and down at the start of my career but I’ve found a certain consistency in the last three years. In Italy, I was playing in a league where I maybe had one or two chances in a game so I had to take them.

“With experience and hard work, I just keep on working.

“It’s a good start but we have to keep working. We know this year’s going to be very competitive. A lot of teams are going to be fighting for the title.”

Lukaku has returned as the finished article, a powerful striker who understands his craft and is lethal in front of goal, as illustrated by his second, little more than a half-chance, fired into the top corner with his left foot in the third minute of stoppage time.

Mateo Kovacic scored the other to produce a flattering score line. Chelsea were far from fluent and Villa, aggressive and purposeful going forward, created a wealth of chances.

But Lukaku in devastating form and as Thomas Tuchel stressed his quality proved to be the difference on a day when both teams bore the scars of the international break, albeit in different ways.

Thomas Tuchel reveals why he removed Chelsea debutant Saul Niguez vs Aston Villa, takes responsibility for his dismal display

Thomas Tuchel has explained why he substituted Saul at half-time after he had a difficult first half and struggled to retain possession, giving the ball away on a few different occasions.

Tuchel suggested that Saul will have to get used to the intensity of the Premier League and that it was his call to put him straight in the starting XI so soon.

Tuchel later admitted that the Spaniard struggled.

The German said: “I had the feeling that he struggled. There were some big mistakes, passing mistakes, and he struggled with the intensity. You could see he isn’t fully adapted.

“It’s completely my responsibility. I had the feeling he could jump in for us and play at that level.

“I thought it was maybe better to change him, but it doesn’t change anything.

The German later added: “He struggled. I take the responsibility for that. I put him into a difficult match after a national break. It was hard for him to adapt to the physicality, and to the intensity and high pressing of Aston Villa. It was also a bit hard for him to adapt to our system and our principles.

“We thought to give a bit more stability to the centre to switch the shape to a 5-3-2 in the second half with Jorginho. It was a tough one, but I hope he accepts it is my responsibility. In training it looked like he had no problem to adapt, but it was training. The game was very intense yesterday, he had some easy ball losses so that’s why I thought before he loses more confidence I would take him off.”

Thomas Tuchel tells star to “stay humble” after Chelsea failed move

Thomas Tuchel has told Ross Barkley to “stay humble” after failing to secure a transfer away from Chelsea during the summer window.

The former Everton midfielder spent last season on loan at Aston Villa and is yet to feature in Tuchel, but has returned to Stamford Bridge and is included in the Blues’ squad for the Premier League.

Having missed nine games through injury at Villa Park, the 27-year-old is heading into his peak years with his future uncertain after joining the club in January 2018.

His No.8 shirt was handed to Mateo Kovacic, who is ahead of him in the midfield pecking order alongside the likes of N’Golo Kante, Jorginho, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Mason Mount as well as new signing Saul Niguez.

Asked about what the future holds for Barkley, Tuchel responded: “He is also asking himself the same questions and maybe all of us here, to be honest, don’t have the answers.

“I’m sure that he worries a lot about the situation: ‘How can it come so far that right now I’m in between the chairs and don’t really know where I belong?’

“I don’t have these answers because I don’t know him long enough,” the German tactician admitted.

“All the advice I can give to Ross right now and what I did say was: ‘Stay humble, get it off your shoulders, all the opinions, all the expectations from everybody, all the past, what could have been, if I did this, if I did that.’

With no suitors found during the summer window, Tuchel has also told the 33-time England international to accept the lack of a departure in a “positive way” amid mean competition for even a place on the Blues’ bench.

“It does not help in the moment. We have a certain adaptation to intensity and to the impact of the group on him,” Tuchel explained. “He is part of the training group. He does not have to love the situation but he needs to accept it in a positive way.”

The boss at Stamford Bridge also added that the financial impact of Covid-19 dented Barkley’s chances of a move away, continuing: “He accepts that it was not an over-performance from him at Aston Villa so he cannot demand that we rely on him.

“It’s hard to see people struggling. But he tried to go on loan again, to find a club, but it is not easy. The situation out there, the financial impact from corona to clubs abroad and clubs also within the country is huge.”

(Watch Highlights) Cristiano Ronaldo grabs brace to mark Old Trafford return as Man United defeat Newcastle (Match Report)

Cristiano Ronaldo stole the show as he scored twice to mark his return to Manchester United with a resounding 4-1 win over visiting Newcastle United.

The Red Devils finished the day top of the Premier League after Bruno Fernandes and Jesse Lingard added goals against Newcastle.

But Steve Bruce’s men came out fighting after the break and levelled through wing-back Javier Manquillo’s first goal for the club – a well-taken finish in front of the travelling supporters.

But Ronaldo’s second of the day quickly put the hosts back in front, before Fernandes’ 25-yarder and substitute Lingard’s late curler put the result beyond doubt.

The visitors actually threatened first at Old Trafford, despite the hosts’ command of possession.

Joelinton dragged an effort wide after a counter-attack and there were brief spells where United’s speed on the break, with Allan Saint-Maximin in particular, caused Harry Maguire and Raphael Varane a few problems.

But Solskjaer’s men, with the returning Ronaldo, asked the majority of the questions. Their new frontman showed glimpses of the threat he brings early on, skipping past Manquillo and firing into the sidenetting on one occasion.

After Varane glanced a Luke Shaw corner just wide, Matt Ritchie’s deflected low drive called David De Gea into action and, after a speculative Fernandes shot from near halfway drifted over, the Magpies spurned a great opening.

It owed much to Joe Willock’s tenacity as he stole a loose ball from Fernandes after a wayward throw-in, but his quickly-taken shot was too high and wide.

The Red Devils continued to push, with Mason Greenwood turning an effort past the post, Jadon Sancho’s shot charged down and Maguire’s tame header saved by Woodman, but in the second minute of added time at the end of the first half, they made their breakthrough.

Greenwood cut inside onto his left and when his low strike took a nick off Ciaran Clark and was parried by Woodman, Ronaldo pounced from close range.

Ten minutes into the second half, though, United clawed themselves back onto level terms. It was a rapid break from Bruce’s side with Miguel Almirón and Saint-Maximin combining before the Frenchman beat his compatriot Varane to the ball to release Manquillo, who confidently drilled home his first goal for the club on his first start of the Premier League season.

But United weren’t able to keep themselves on level terms for long. Five minutes later, a similarly fast breakaway from the hosts brought their second. Shaw’s run and through ball left Ronaldo with work to do, but his speed took him away from Isaac Hayden and his left-footed finish flashed through Woodman’s legs on its way in.

The Magpies responded, with Joelinton forcing a save from De Gea and substitute Jacob Murphy testing the Spaniard from range, but moments later Fernandes took aim from distance.

His effort was swerving and fierce, leaving Woodman with little chance of keeping it out as it flew into the top left-hand corner.

In the 92nd minute Lingard, who had replaced Sancho, added further gloss to the scoreline, making it four with a neat shot which evaded Woodman – and leaving Newcastle still searching for their first win of the campaign.

Aubameyang reveals players’ mood in Arsenal dressing room after securing their first Premier League win

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has revealed the relief around the dressing room after Arsenal secured their first win of the season in the Premier League.

The Gunners squeezed past Norwich 1-0 on Saturday, with the Gabon striker netting the winner.

Afterwards, Aubameyang took to Instagram to reveal what the victory meant.

“For some people it’s only 3 points – for us it means a bit more,” he wrote.

“When we loose as players we are the first to be sad and touched inside.

“We are human beings which is why you can now see the happiness in the pictures – and now we need to keep going and keep this happiness💪🏾 thanks to all the fans today, you gave us the extra push! 🙏🏾”

(Watch Highlights) Lukaku marks his Stamford Bridge return with brace to flatten hard-fighting Aston Villa (Match Report)

Romelu Lukaku marked his return to Stamford Bridge with two goals as Chelsea beat Aston Villa 3-0 to go level at the top of the Premier League.

Aston Villa pushed Chelsea all the way but fell to a hard-fought 3-0 defeat at Stamford Bridge.

A frantic start to proceedings saw both sides create openings inside the early exchanges, the hosts going closest when Callum Hudson-Odoi’s inswinging corner in the ninth minute looked goalbound before Konsa directed on to the crossbar and away.

Dean Smith’s side gave as good as they got against the Champions League and Super Cup champions but were undone by goals in either half from Romelu Lukaku and Mateo Kovacic, before the former added his second of the evening in injury time.

The Belgian, who was sent clear by Kovacic’s inch-perfect throughball, cut inside Axel Tuanzebe before slotting home.

Lukaku broke clear to slot home Kovacic’s throughball in the 15th minute, before the Croatia international capitalised on a defensive mix-up early in the second half to double the hosts’ advantage.

Chelsea’s club-record summer signing Lukaku then drilled a third into the top corner from the edge of the area in the 93rd minute to add a cruel reflection on the scoreline for battling Villa.

The visitors forced Edouard Mendy into a series of fine saves throughout, with Ollie Watkins, Tyrone Mings and Ezri Konsa among those denied by the Blues goalkeeper.

The reverse leaves Villa with just one victory in their last 17 league visits to Stamford Bridge stretching back to 2002.