Cristiano Ronaldo’s smile was one of supreme satisfaction.
As did the conclusion that summed up so much about why he is one of the greatest goalscorers in football history.
What that reaction really meant, however, as he stood with his hands clasped just above his stomach in the Merseyside rain, was anyone’s guess.
Was it simply about reaching the incredible milestone of 700 goals in his club career in just 943 appearances for Sporting Lisbon, Manchester United, Real Madrid and Juventus?
Did it have to do with his brilliant 42nd birthday?nd Minute goal had just completed a brilliant comeback by Erik ten Hag’s team in the first half?
Or was it really more about showing the Dutchman and the rest of the world that he remains a force to be reckoned with, despite so many believing his status as one of football’s great superstars was already history?
That last theory would be bet on when Antony joined him to mimic his gesture at such a momentous moment.
The irony was that he shouldn’t have been on the pitch at all, as United manager Ten Hag had sent him to the bench again.
Anthony Martial was favored in the starting XI but the Frenchman injured his hip during warm-up and it was razor-thin whether he would actually kick off.
But he did, and as has become the norm for CR7, he sat neutral-faced with the substitutes.
Not happy. But neutral, waiting. Maybe wait until January and move away – something he wanted over the summer, except no one was willing to risk him, certainly not on a £375,000-a-week wage.
And certainly not for a player who, let’s be blunt, was talked about in the past tense, his legs supposedly gone, the panache that made him so terrifying is now nothing but legendary.
But Martial, who had sent Antony for the swing that nullified Alex Iwobi’s thunderous opener, lasted just 28 minutes.
And when he snapped his fists in front of the dugouts, Ronaldo had a smile on his face too.
That one was probably about him thinking this might just be his chance for at least one more “Siuuu!” Celebration.
How many more there will be remains debatable — a bit like what that smiling addition to his normal triumphal display actually meant.
Because his legs really aren’t what they used to be, even if his eye for goal is obviously as diamond-sharp as ever.
Chasing down defenders, doing the high pressing that Ten Hag demands like all modern managers do, really isn’t what he was ever about, and now, for all his famed gym work ethic, it’s physically overwhelmed.
Also, Martial is starting to look like a gamer again.
Despite what they didn’t really matter, he scored two in a 6-3 win over Manchester City and one in a smashing 3-2 midweek win over Omonia Nicosia a week earlier.
His assist for Antony, who became the first United player to score in each of his first three Prem games, formed a perfectly weighted pass after Bruno Fernandes threw out Idrissa Gueye in the 15th minuteth Minute.
Martial could be the future, while Marcus Rashford is enjoying something of a renaissance under the tutelage of Ten Hag.
But with that, Ronaldo said he’s not quite in the past either.
That magic moment came in a game where both teams seemed to have forgotten the old adage that possession is nine-tenths of the law.
Casemiro had probably never heard of it as a Brazilian but he now knows what it means as he passed the ball under pressure from Amadou Onana amid a feverish Goodison atmosphere.
The 30-year-old, who cost £60million from one of Ronaldo’s old clubs, Real Madrid, made his full Prem debut after amassing 82 minutes in four games since arriving.
But in the week Ten Hag had been talking about wake-up calls, he was sound asleep when he was challenged in the fifth minute by his £40million Nigeria international.
Demarai Gray then charged forward, although David de Gea couldn’t count on the resulting smash from Iwobi – who had scored 16 goals in his top-flight career but had never scored from outside the box.
Antony benefited from a similar error when Martial made the best of Fernandes’ interception at the start of a bitterly disappointing night for Everton boss Frank Lampard and a side that struggled in vain to level in the final moments.
Finally, after missing a gold-rimmed chance two minutes earlier, Casemiro robbed Iwobi to deliver the pass that Ronaldo could tell the world was not over the hill.
Or at least not quite yet.
https://www.the-sun.com/sport/6403853/everton-1-2-man-utd-ronaldo-antony-iwobi/ Everton 1 Man Utd 2: Cristiano Ronaldo’s 700th club goal puts Red Devils fifth with comeback win