Ronaldo came out to set the record straight, as well as set more records. As the footballing universe knows, Madrid had their backs up against the wall against Wolfsburg after losing 2-0 in the first leg. Cristiano made it his duty to put on his superman cape in the second leg last night and save Madrid from an embarrassing exit from the Champions League in the quarter-finals. Not one, not two, but three goals he scored to help his team fight back and win 3-2 on aggregate.
Not since 1987 against Red Star Belgrade have Madrid made such a comeback, so this game needed to be special. Before the game Ronaldo had said they need a magical night and he most definitely set the tone and supplied the magic. Even during pre-game as the Madrid men lined up before kick-off, the camera panned to the man wearing number 7 who looked directly into the camera and nodded with pure confidence and seriousness, like he knew what he was going to do before he did it.
Madrid, as a team, were no slouches in this game either, as they tightened up in defence while welcoming back Carvahal into the starting lineup over the heavily criticized Danilo in the first leg. Carvahal made his presence felt early on the offensive end as he intercepted a pass and started the attack that led to Ronaldo’s first goal. Bale and Benzema were not at their best offensively, but still played key roles in the win as it was a full team effort.
It was a phenomenal night to be a Madrid fan at the spectacular Bernabeu stadium as they were in for a real treat. Fortunately for Madrid and unfortunately for his critics, along with Wolfsburg, Ronaldo had the type of motivation that would even surpass his usual standards. His tireless work ethic and hunger to win has been praised by everyone who knows him, but last night, he smelt blood like a piranha. First, an instinctive run to get on the end of a tap in for the first goal, another instinctive run to evade defenders to perfectly place a header by the far post off of a Kroos corner for the second, and lastly, a well-placed free kick to seal the deal for the hat-trick.
Cristiano maintained his focus throughout the whole game and showcased leadership that some might be surprised to see. He never stopped running, tracking back or pressuring the Wolfsburg backline, never stopped encouraging his teammates to keep working and the Bernabeu to keep cheering. He never sulked or pouted, he just kept going with his game plan and Madrid with CR7 executed it to perfection.
Ronaldo said after the game “God helps those who work hard” and after a game like this, there might just be a few more people who believe in him…God, of course.
On to the records and statistics that the Portuguese Clark Kent added to his resume tonight:
- First player to score three hat-tricks in a Champions League season.
- First player to score 15 goals or more in a Champions League season, twice
- Most goals in Champions League history with 93 (10 more than second place with 83 occupied by Messi)
- Has scored against 31 teams in the competition
- 65 Goals and assists since 2012 (15 more than Messi who is on 40 at the moment, Lewandowski with 37)
- Most goals in the quarter final (and semi final) stages in Champions League history