It may have been a night to forget for Real Madrid CF at Borussia Dortmund, but Cristiano Ronaldo could take consolation from joining a select band of forwards when his 43rd-minute effort took him to 50 UEFA Champions League goals. He is only the fifth to reach the milestone – and the third fastest. UEFA.com reflects on his landmark goals to date and the elite company the 28-year-old Portugal player now keeps.
THE FIRST – Manchester United FC 7-1 AS Roma, 10/04/2007
It took Ronaldo 27 games to get off the mark in the competition proper but it was worth the wait. Cutting in from the right, he was invited to shoot by a backtracking Roma defence and did just that, firing a right-footed effort low past goalkeeper Doni. Five minutes later, he scored a second as United ran riot against a team that led the quarter-final tie 2-1 going into the Old Trafford second leg – he was on his way.
THE FINAL – Manchester United FC 1-1 Chelsea FC (aet, United win 6-5 on pens), 21/05/2008
Players talk of emotional roller coasters but few have experienced anything like this. The Moscow final was 26 minutes old when Ronaldo dropped off Michael Essien and leapt majestically to head Wes Brown's cross low into the corner. From that high (literally), he plummeted to the depths of despair when his shoot-out penalty was saved. John Terry's infamous slip and Edwin van der Sar's stop from Nicolas Anelka meant all that was soon forgotten. "I missed my penalty and it felt like the worst day of my life. Now it's the happiest," said Ronaldo.
THE WONDER GOAL – FC Porto 0-1 Manchester United FC, 15/04/2009
Returning to his native Portugal, the spotlight inevitably shone bright on Ronaldo – and how he justified his star billing. With six minutes on the clock he collected the ball in midfield and, from 36.2m, let fly with a sensational right-footed screamer that arrowed into the very top left corner. "A fantastic goal; the best I have scored," he said. Porto would have advanced to the last four with an equaliser but, shaken, could not find one.
THE FREE-KICK – Arsenal FC 1-3 Manchester United FC, 05/05/2009
Eighteen months after showcasing his now trademark free-kick against Portsmouth FC, Ronaldo brought it to a grander stage: the UEFA Champions League semi-finals. As he lined up a free-kick wide on the right, a shot looked unlikely but the No7 is always up for a challenge. He struck through the ball, the vicious swerve sending Manuel Almunia one way and then the other – but too late as his effort crept inside the near post.
THE HAT-TRICK – AFC Ajax 1-4 Real Madrid CF, 03/10/2012
Ronaldo had netted twice on 11 occasions in the UEFA Champions League before finally breaking his hat-trick duck earlier this season. The first was a predatory strike, the second a curving drive and the third a measured lob – all that was missing from completely exhibiting his repertoire was the free-kick and the prodigious leap cum bullet header.
Fastest to 50 UEFA Champions League goals
Ruud van Nistelrooy – 62 games
Lionel Messi – 66 games
Cristiano Ronaldo – 91 games
Raúl González – 97 games
Thierry Henry – 103 games
UEFA Champions League all-time leading scorers
Raúl González – 71 (142 games)
Lionel Messi – 59 (79)
Ruud van Nistelrooy – 56 (73)
Cristiano Ronaldo – 50 (91)
Thierry Henry – 50 (112)
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