Ruud van Nistelrooy made sure his 50th goal in the European Champion Clubs' Cup was a memorable one by crowning a scintillating Real Madrid CF performance with an exquisite chip to seal a 4-1 win at FC Steaua Bucuresti. The Dutchman lifted the ball over Steaua goalkeeper Carlos Fernandes from a tight angle with 14 minutes to play to spark celebrations on the Madrid bench as the Spanish side put their poor recent form behind them in sparkling fashion.
"I saw a space behind their defence and I made a run," Van Nistelrooy told uefa.com. "[Mahamadou] Diarra played me in. I had the ball in the box and I saw from the corner of my eye that the goalkeeper was coming out of his goal which was a bit of surprise to me. All of a sudden I lifted it over him. It was a reaction to his movement out of the goal." It may have looked like a rehearsed move, but Van Nistelrooy insisted it was spontaneous. "No, but I like to chip the goalkeeper sometimes in training," he said. "Today it just worked out because of the situation."
By then Madrid were already 3-1 up thanks to goals from Sergio Ramos, Raúl González and Robinho. Van Nistelrooy picked put the latter, preferred to Ronaldo in the starting lineup, as the catalyst for victory. "Robbie was fantastic today," he said. "He hasn't played for a long time but today I think was the best I have ever seen him."
"It's a very difficult place to come here, and to score four we did very well," continued the former Manchester United FC striker. "We had a lot of possession, played good football with good touches and created chances. I think it's what you expect of Real Madrid. We had to bounce back from Saturday's very bad performance [when Madrid lost 1-0 against Getafe CF]. I'm glad we did. We showed character and good football."
Van Nistelrooy has moved ahead of Madrid legend Alfredo Di Stéfano in the all-time European Cup scoring list, and is three behind Andriy Shevchenko and a further goal adrift of all-time leader Raúl, whose latest strike has moved him on to 54.
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