Cristiano Ronaldo marked his 1,000th professional game this weekend by scoring in a record-equalling 11th Serie A game in a row, as Juventus moved four points clear at the top of the table. Here we count down 10 of his greatest performances:
10) Sporting 3-0 Moreirense, Primeira Liga 7 October 2002
At just 17 years of age, Ronaldo made his debut for Sporting Lisbon in a convincing 3-0 win against Moreirense. It was a dream senior debut for the teenager, who scored twice in what was a poor Sporting side who would go on to finish third in the Primeira Liga, some 27 points behind champions Benfica. Very few at the time would have thought that the youngster would go on to become one of the games greatest players, but it was here that Ronaldo first made his mark on the footballing world.
After a quiet start, Ronaldo came alive to level the game, exchanging passes with Dani Carvajal down the right before drilling a low shot which was too powerful for Gianluigi Buffon. He was not done there; midway through the second half, Luka Modric chipped the ball to the near post where Cristiano had darted to score his 600th career goal, and seal back-to-back European Cups.
8) Barcelona 1-2 Real Madrid, La Liga, 21 April 2012
It will be remembered by many Real Madrid fans as the day that Ronaldo silenced the Camp Nou crowd with his famous “Calma” celebration. In a tense and nervy affair, Ronaldo scored the winner in the late stages of the game as Real beat Barca to end any hopes of a Catalan title pursuit. Ronaldo was crucial in helping Real to their first title in four years in a season where he scored 60 goals in all-competitions, including a staggering 46 league goals. It was also a record-breaking year for Real as they reached 100 points.
Ronaldo scored twice including an incredible bicycle kick to help Real Madrid breeze past Juventus in the first leg of the Champions League quarter-final. He made history with the first of his two goals on the night, becoming the first player to score in 10 consecutive Champions League games. However, his overhead kick remains the night’s key talking point, forever being remembered as one of the Champions League’s greatest goals. The effort left Gianluigi Buffon with absolutely no chance and was so spectacular that many home fans stood to applaud.
This was the game that really set the tournament alight in Russia: a dramatic 3-3 draw between Portugal and Spain courtesy of a stunning display by who else but Ronaldo. He opened the scoring in the fourth minute with a penalty, before scoring again shortly before the break with a strike that was too powerful for David de Gea. His fantastic late free-kick, curled over the wall and into the top corner, completed his hat-trick and rescued a point for Portugal in what was their opening group match. In doing so, Ronaldo became only the fourth player to score in four consecutive World Cups, after Pele, Uwe Seeler and Miroslav Klose.
In a match marked by controversy, Ronaldo reached 100 Champions League goals courtesy of a hat-trick in a 4-2 win against Bayern Munich. His treble helped the defending champions to a resounding 6-3 aggregate victory, as the Spanish giants reached the semi-final for the seventh consecutive year. It looked as if Ronaldo had won the game with his 76th-minute header before Sergio Ramos put through his own net to send the game to extra time. But Ronaldo was the star of the show once again scoring two more goals, with his left and right foot respectively, to complete the perfect hat-trick.
4) Arsenal 1-3 Manchester United, Champions League semi-finals, 5 May 2009
Arguably Ronaldo’s greatest performance in a Manchester United shirt, given the opposition and the stage. The tie was in the balance after a 1-0 victory for United at Old Trafford in the first leg, but the Portuguese took the game away from Arsenal within 11 minutes, first setting up Ji-Sung Park before arrowing in a stunning free-kick from 35 yards. He added another in the second half after a blistering counter-attack to book United’s place in the final.
In Real Madrid’s hour of need, up stepped Ronaldo, scoring a hat-trick at the Bernabeu to turn around a 2-0 deficit from the first leg. The first two came in less than a minute to suddenly draw the game level, before a 25-yard free-kick which had an air of inevitability as soon as he stepped up. Madrid went on to clinch their 11th Champions League crown.
In what was one of his greatest performances for his country, Cristiano scored an incredible hat-trick in a 3-2 win against Sweden at the Friends Arena in Stockholm. In the battle between Ronaldo and Ibrahimovic, which saw both players score all of the tie’s goals, it was Cristiano who stole the show to help Portugal clinch their place in Brazil with a 4-2 aggregate win. With the scores level at half-time, Ronaldo took centre stage in what was a brilliant second-half display, with three powerful finishes on the break. It was also memorable night for the captain as he became Portugal’s all-time leading goalscorer, with 50 goals, surpassing retired forward Pauleta’s 47.
It what he described as a “magical night”, Cristiano Ronaldo’s hat-trick against Atletico Madrid for Juventus was inconceivable. After being outclassed at the Wanda Metropolitano in the first leg, losing 2-0, an angry Ronaldo left the stadium holding up five fingers to remind critics of his Champions League medal count. Juve needed something special to overturn the tie and progress to the next stage. Up stepped Ronaldo, as he so often does to single-handily send the Old Lady into the quarter-final. In the first half he headed home at the far post, before a second-half header was awarded courtesy of goal-line technology, and he completed his hat-trick from the penalty spot. Simply extraordinary.