Cristiano Ronaldo hat-trick eclipses Wolfsburg - and Arsenal
Forward helps Real Madrid overcome two-goal deficit to reach sixth successive Champions League semi-final
A brilliant hat-trick from Cristiano Ronaldo has booked Real Madrid a place in the semi-finals of the Champions League as the Spanish team overturned a 2-0 deficit against VfL Wolfsburg.
Once again, Los Merengues owed a debt of gratitude to the "glittering brilliance" of the Portuguese forward, who scored two headers in the space of a minute to cancel out the German side's advantage and then fired home a trademark free kick with extra time looming to secure victory.
"As ever, the very brightest spotlight only managed to catch the Portuguese's best side," says The Times. Ronaldo's goals ensured Madrid made it to the semi-finals of the competition for the sixth year in a row and the team must be "taken extremely seriously indeed. Ronaldo's presence alone guarantees that."
Real coach Zinedine Zidane led the tributes to his star man, but was careful to emphasise the contribution of those around him.
"He is the best player in the world and nights like tonight make him a special player," he said. "Cristiano needs the whole team, too, but not everyone can score three goals in a game. He makes the difference."
Predictably, Ronaldo was happy to bask in the limelight and rounded on his critics after taking his Champions League goal tally to 16 in ten matches this term. The hat-trick was his sixth of the season.
"Considering this has been a 'bad' season for me, it has not been that bad," he said "People can criticise me but I just keep on going and the numbers are there for all to see... It was not the best, but one of my best, European nights. It's not bad is it?"
There is "one unbelievable statistic which perfectly encapsulated just how unstoppable Ronaldo has been in Europe", reports the Daily Telegraph.
"The Real Madrid forward has scored more goals on his own than the entire Arsenal team since September 2013."
In that time Ronaldo has 43 goals to Arsenal's 41, although he has played in more games thanks to Real Madrid's superior track record in the competition.