Champions League: fans hail ‘GOAT’ Ronaldo after Juve’s magical night
Portuguese star scores a hat-trick to seal 3-2 aggregate win against Atletico Madrid
Juventus 3 Atletico Madrid 0 (Juventus win 3-2 on aggregate)
Cristiano Ronaldo scored a sublime hat-trick to send Juventus through to the last eight of the Uefa Champions League.
The Italian side were staring elimination in the face after losing 2-0 to Atletico in the first leg of the last-16 tie, but the veteran Portuguese striker rolled back the years to remind the world why he is arguably the greatest player in the history of the game.
“It was meant to be a special night and it was, not just for my goals but for the attitude we showed,” said the 34-year-old. “That is the sort of mentality you need to win the Champions League.”
Ronaldo signed for Juventus in a £99m deal last summer, and while Real Madrid have fallen into disrepair since his departure, he’s continued his goalscoring ways in Turin.
With 19 in the Serie A this season, Ronaldo is the second top goal scorer in the Italian top flight, and while he hasn’t scored as prolifically in Europe, there is no one better in the business end of the competition.
He has scored 18 goals in his past 14 Champions League knockout appearances, and it’s nearly four years since a team with Ronaldo was knocked out of the Champions League.
“This was why Juventus brought me here, to help do things that they have never done before,” explained Ronaldo, who has now scored a record 124 goals in Europe’s top tier competition - 18 more than Barcelona’s Lionel Messi, who is second on the list.
Ronaldo’s first two goals were headers, and his third came from the penalty spot four minutes from time. It was his eighth hat-trick in the competition, prompting Ronaldo to describe the game as “a magical night”.
Juventus head coach Massimiliano Allegri hailed all his players for the performance, which keeps alive their hopes of winning their first Champions League title since 1996.
“He [Ronaldo] scored because he played well in the box and his team-mates worked well in the gameplay,” said Allegri. “[It was] a great match with an outstanding crowd supporting us and the players gave all Italian football fans a real show. That’s the most important thing.”