United had led by just the one goal when Ronaldo, signed for £12.5 million only a few days before from Sporting, arrived on the pitch after 61 minutes. With no. 7 on his back, taking it from the recently departed David Beckham, the excitement was palpable, and any expectations were soon exceeded too.
Ronaldo won a penalty and entertained a mesmerised crowd with stepovers galore. “Undoubtedly the most exciting debut performance I’ve ever seen,” was the verdict of George Best.
18 years on, it’s 300 up for Cristiano. Here’s how he’s got to the landmark…