Ronaldo a goal machine like no other

Love him or hate him, you've got to hand it to Cristiano Ronaldo ... the greatest goal machine in the history of the game.


Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates his first goal Source: AAP

Not the best player, not the most influential and certainly not in the class of Alfredo Di Stefano, Pele, Diego Maradona and Lionel Messi. 

But simply the greatest and deadliest in terms of sticking the ball into the net.

Yet what is greatness anyway?

For some it is the ability to mesmerise opponents with moments of incredible skill, for others it is the capacity to regularly win games for your team by scoring goals that matter.

The Portuguese prince capped off an extraordinary 12 months by helping his club Real Madrid win the 12th European Cup/UEFA Champions League with a double in a 4-1 romp over Juventus of Italy.

Since the spring of 2016 Ronaldo has won two UCL titles, the Spanish league, the Spanish cup, the FIFA Club World Cup, the European Super Cup and also helped himself to European Championship glory for good measure.

CR7 is in a rich vein of form and on Sunday he took his scoring tally to an amazing 600 goals since he first kicked a ball in anger for Sporting Club in 2002. He finished as this season's leading scorer in the Champions League with 12.

He also is the first player since Di Stefano in 1958 to score in three finals.

No player in history has been able to score so many goals for such a long time and at such a high level as Ronaldo.

And at 32 you feel that Ronaldo has enough time to break even more records for club and country.

Madrid's victory at the Millennium Stadium consolidated their position as world football's greatest and most successful club.

Three continental titles in four years speaks volumes for a fabled organisation that do not do things in half measures.

Ever since they ruled Europe in the formative years of the European Cup with five triumphs in its first five seasons, culminating in that epic 7-3 victory over Eintracht Frankfurt in Glasgow, Madrid have been the benchmark of football excellence, always playing the game the way it should be played.

They are and always were one of a handful of teams that can play entertaining, winning football.

They are the first club in 27 years to win two straight Champions League titles.

It is hard and probably too early to establish where this Madrid side ranks in the annals of the European game.

The jury is out, for example, on whether the current Merengues are as tactically strong or as hard to beat as Messi's Barcelona at their peak or Franco Baresi's AC Milan in the 1990s.

Zinedine Zidane's team are not perfect by any means but the way they go about their business especially when the chips are down shows their mental strength and belief in their ability to pull games out of the fire.
Remember the two escapades against Atletico Madrid in their previous two finals?

Madrid could not cope too well with Juve's quick and crisp passing in the first half but when they stepped up a gear in the second half and took a stranglehold on midfield thanks to that amazing playmaker Luka Modric and a better involvement of fullback Marcelo, Juve had no answer and fell apart.

And when you have such a born and proven goalscorer as Ronaldo in his new position of centre-forward, you are most likely to come out on top, as Madrid did so spectacularly in Cardiff.

Madrid may have won the game in midfield but their deadliness up front cannot be overstated.

Rampant Ronaldo and Juve's Gonzalo Higuain, for example, are poles apart in terms of technique, temperament and pure finishing.

One sour note on Madrid's victory was captain Sergio Ramos's play-acting that got substitute Juan Cuadrado sent off late in the game.

Ramos is a magnificent defender who has served his club and country very well for more than a decade but he did his reputation and the game no favours with his disgraceful simulation that got a fellow professional into trouble.

With Madrid cruising at 3-1 up, he did not need to do that, assuming there is ever a need for that sort of behaviour.

Ramos should have been dismissed for a second yellow card after being booked in the first half yet he got away with it and a few minutes later he was able to receive the coveted trophy that cemented Madrid's place in history.

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4 min read
Published 4 June 2017 at 4:40pm
By Philip Micallef