Relentless Ronaldo makes history as goals keep flowing
Real Madrid star's hat-trick means he has scored more goals in the Champions League than Atletico Madrid
Cristiano Ronaldo's second hat-trick in successive Champions League games has put Real Madrid on the verge of yet another appearance in the final and underlined his status as an all-time great.
Having reached 100 Champions League goals in the last round against Bayern Munich, he took his tally to 103 at the Bernabeu as he put Atletico Madrid to the sword, and he is now only one shy of 400 goals for the Spanish club.
He might be 32, but Ronaldo continues to "rip up opposing defences and shred history books", says Henry Winter of The Times.
"He deserves all the plaudits, and his proud place alongside Pele, Diego Maradona and Lionel Messi in the pantheon of the game’s greatest," says Winter.
The latest hat-trick was the 42nd of Ronaldo's career with Real Madrid and he continues to chase perfection even at an age when most players are winding down their careers.
"Ronaldo’s greatness is paraded in how he frequently rises to the occasion, and he has now scored 52 goals in the knockout stages of Europe’s elite competition," says Winter. "That Champions League anthem has become his signature tune, his starting pistol, the soundtrack to his glittering career."
He remains driven, focused and "utterly and unforgivingly relentless", says Jacob Steinberg of The Guardian.
"Bowing down to time simply is not his style, not when there are so many goals still to be scored, awards to win and mirrors to glance at admiringly, and while he might not be as blisteringly quick as he was a year or two ago, Ronaldo shows no sign of slowing down in other ways."
The statistics tell their own story:
- Ronaldo (103) has scored more Champions League goals than Atletico Madrid (100)
- He has scored as many goals in the knockout stages (52) as Raul, Andriy Shevchenko and Filippo Inzaghi combined, and more than Thierry Henry managed in the entire competition (50)
- His overall tally is greater than that of Ruud van Nistelrooy (56) and Didier Drogba (44) combined
- The Portuguese star has scored his 103 goals in 141 Champions League games, but he did not trouble the goal mouth in his first 26 Champions League appearances, so his goals have come in 114 matches
The only blot on the landscape is confusion over his 400th goal for Real Madrid. Ronaldo believed he had reached the milestone against Atletico, reports the Daily Mail.
"The problem is, that official records show Ronaldo on 399 Real Madrid goals, not 400," says the paper.
"The controversial goal in question came back in 2010, when Ronaldo smashed a free kick into the back of the net against Real Sociedad – but it was credited as a Pepe goal, with the ball flicking off the defender's back as he ducked in the wall.
"Real have always maintained that the goal was Ronaldo's, but it was officially credited to his teammate and compatriot."
Ronaldo scores his 100th goal in Europe - how did he do it?
Cristiano Ronaldo was in typically humble form after becoming the first person to score 100 goals in European football, netting a brace for Real Madrid as they beat Bayern Munich 2-1 in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final
Not only did his goals at the Allianz Arena in Munich strike a huge blow for Los Galacticos and take him into triple figures, they also ended a 659-minute European goal drought and catapulted him into the realm of sports stars who talk about themselves in the third person.
Asked if people had questioned his ability, Ronaldo replied: "I don't know who doubted me. The people who love Cristiano never had any doubts. You'd have to tell me who kept doubting as it never reached me."
The Manchester United and Real Madrid legend reached the milestone of 100 goals in just 140 games and notched up strikes in 15 countries, reports the Daily Mail.
"The 99th and 100th goals of his European career came 4,264 days after his first, which arrived for Manchester United in a 3-0 qualifying-round victory over Debrecen in 2005. What has followed has been one of the great careers in European football, which has yielded a century of goals in just 140 games and has seen him lift the Champions League trophy on three occasions."
Unsurprisingly, almost half his goals have been scored in Madrid, where he has found the net 41 times, while only nine were scored in Manchester. Next on the list are Istanbul and Amsterdam, where he has scored five times each.
Ronaldo is still shy of a Champions League century, however, as four of his European goals came in other competitions, notes ESPN.
The site has also crunched the numbers to reveal that "twenty of his goals have come against German clubs, his most versus any clubs from a single country.
"With his brace on Wednesday, Ronaldo has now scored six goals in five games against Bayern Munich, tied for his second most against any club in European competition," it adds.
He has registered seven against Ajax and Schalke and six against Malmo - in only two matches.
Unsurprisingly, Lionel Messi is snapping at his heels. The Barcelona star has 97 European goals, despite having played only 118 matches in Uefa competitions.