Cristiano Ronaldo, as is his wont, took it upon himself to dominate the Champions League headlines this week. The Portugal captain put on a majestic display as Champions League holders Real Madrid swept aside Juventus 3-0 in Turin, scoring what he himself called “the best goal of my career.”
Ronaldo has scored 649 goals in his professional career, he’ll score hundreds more before hanging up his boots, but perhaps none better than the perfectly executed overhead kick against Juventus on Tuesday night.
With his back to goal at the top of the box, Ronaldo launched himself into a spectacular feat of coordination, gymnastics and timing, striking the ball at a height of 2.38 metres (51 cm more than his own height!) and sending it hurtling into the bottom corner of the net past a motionless and stunned Gianluigi Buffon.
So extraordinarily aesthetically pleasing was the goal that huge swathes of the Juventus supporters broke into spontaneous applause. Even Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane could not quite believe what he had just seen.
Zinedine Zidane’s reaction to Cristiano Ronaldo’s overhead kick is all of us. pic.twitter.com/AxNxIWrwp3— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) April 3, 2018
In Portugal, where the match was shown on terrestrial TV, the first 30 minutes of the post-match analysis was exclusively dedicated to chat about the goal. “It’s a goal that will be talked about in 100 years,” said former Porto and Benfica player turned pundit César Peixoto.
Sports papers across Europe plastered the image of the airborne Ronaldo on their front pages on Wednesday morning. Italian publication La Gazzetta dello Sport emblazoned “CRWOW!” on their cover, “From Another Planet” was the headline in French paper L’Équippe, an angle replicated across the continent, such as in Spain’s AS which went with: “What Planet Did You Come From?”
Back in Portugal, Vitória de Setúbal striker Edinho, who scored four goals himself last week and received a message of congratulations from Ronaldo for doing so, took to the social networks to praise the Portugal captain in a highly original manner.
Edinho ficou louco com o golaço de Ronaldo contra a Juve 😂 pic.twitter.com/gYLqeM6nYY— B24 (@B24pt) April 3, 2018
Amid the hyperbole surrounding the goal – entirely justified it should be added – it almost got forgotten that Ronaldo had once again produced a complete display to single-handedly all but put the Spanish giants into the semi-final. In the early stages Ronaldo showed lightning speed and anticipation to stab the visitors into the lead, and the third goal scored by Marcelo was assisted by the Madeiran magician.
Just for good measure, Ronaldo broke another record by finding the net for his 10th consecutive Champions League game. In his current form, few would bet against him extending that run next week in the second leg, and he may also be on course to break his own record of 17 Champions League goals in a single season. His brace on Tuesday took his tally in 2017/18 to 14.
As Edinho says: “Não há palavras”
By Tom Kundert