An "over the moon" Cristiano Ronaldo brought up his century of UEFA Champions League goals in style as his hat-trick assured Real Madrid of a seventh consecutive semi-final berth as they bid to become the first side to retain the competition in its current form.
"I don't know if there's a category for him," eulogised coach Zinédine Zidane when asked where he would rank the Portuguese after his latest milestone. "What you see Cristiano doing is really impressive. The goals, the way he finishes them, in such key, important moments.
"He always knows when there's an important occasion, he's going to be there. He showed it again tonight – he scored three goals. It is out of any sort of category. There are few players who can to do what Ronaldo has done and we all know that."
Two goals in the first took the forward to 100 goals in UEFA club competitions and from the first whistle he appeared a man on a mission as he sought to reach three figures in the UEFA Champions League. A couple of early sighters served as a warning of what was to come.
With Bayern twice ahead on the night and Madrid up against it, their talisman was once again the man for the big occasion, rising highest with that wonderful leap to nod them level at 1-1, and tying things up at 2-2 in extra-time before completing his treble. Worryingly for whoever the Meringues meet next, the No7 believes he is hitting his stride at the right time.
"I said after the first leg that I prepare myself in order to reach the end of the season in good shape," Ronaldo told UEFA.com. "It's something I've struggled to do over the last three or four years, but the most important thing is that I feel good, that the side are playing very well."
"We're on course to reach our targets: we're in the semis, and we're top of the Liga too. We're really happy. As for my limits, I always try to play well, and I'm fortunate enough to have scored three really important goals today and I'm over the moon."
His third, record-breaking effort, put Madrid 3-2 up and the result beyond doubt. While it might have been the simplest of finishes with his right foot into an open goal, it would have been made all the more sweeter as it competed a 'perfect' hat-trick; the first had come with his head and he volleyed in the second left-footed.
It was one of those 'I was there' nights, and the Bernabéu crowd lapped it up after a nervy start to the second half, and they will have 3 June marked down as a date in their diaries.
"Real Madrid in the Champions league… it's a special competition," Ronaldo beamed. "We want to win it again this year. It would be something special and we're going to fight for it."
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