Champions League : After Cristiano Ronaldo smashed the ball from high out of the rainy sky into the left-hand corner of Gianluigi Buffon’s net for his second goal against Juventus, there was a long second of silence in Turin while the Real Madrid man wheeled away to celebrate, and then a spontaneous round of applause as the home fans gave the Real Madrid striker due respect. What a finish.
“Well, for me it was an unbelievable moment,” Ronaldo told UEFA.com after Real Madrid’s 3-0 UEFA Champions League quarter-final win in Turin. “I have to say thank you a lot – grazie – to all the Juventus supporters. What they did for me was amazing. I’m so happy – thank you. It had never happened to me in my career so far.”
The Juventus fans’ generosity of spirit was admirable given that Ronaldo has now scored nine goals in six games against their side, but while the overhead kick is a strike that will likely be discussed for years to come, the striker himself preferred to be reasonably brisk when he reflected on it.
“It was a great goal, fantastic,” he said. “I didn’t expect to score that goal, but let’s speak about the game. I think the game was amazing. We scored three goals against Juve, a great team. We played nice, I helped the team, I scored two goals. It was a great night.”
Ronaldo’s second was sensational, but his first – scored in the third minute – was perhaps more significant, making him the first player to score in ten successive UEFA Champions League games, having started that sequence ten months ago in the final defeat of Juventus in Cardiff. “Well, of course I’m proud,” Ronaldo said, adding: “I didn’t know until you told me. I like to beat records.”
The 33-year-old has now scored 24 in his last 14 UEFA Champions League games, a mark of how his side thrive at the highest level. “This is our competition,” he said. “We love to play in the Champions League, I love to play in the Champions League. It was a great result, we have the second leg at home, we know that Juve are a great team so we have to be careful but we are happy, the team is very happy.
“I liked our consistency,” he added. “We did not concede. Juve made a lot of pressure, especially in the first half, but we defended well, our goalkeeper, our defenders did a fantastic job. Then the second half, you know, we created a few chances and we scored. You know football is like that, if you don’t score, you don’t win.”
Should he keep scoring at this rate, a third successive UEFA Champions League final triumph is in the offing, though Ronaldo was in no rush to say as much. “Step by step,” he warned. “I think we should think about the second leg now. Anything is possible in football, so let’s think about the second leg and let’s see what is going to happen.” He is right, of course. It is way too early to talk about the Kyiv now. However, when it comes to Goal of the Season, we may already have a winner.