3 Instances when Cristiano Ronaldo left his mark on a Champions League tie
- 3 memorable instances when Cristiano Ronaldo took control of a Champions League tie.
Cristiano Ronaldo is the most decorated player in the history of the Champions League. With five Champions League titles to his name, Ronaldo is the most capped outfield player and has scored the most goals by any player in Champions League history.
The 35-year-old Juventus striker is the only player to have scored for two different winning sides in a Champions League final, and the only one to score in three finals when he scored for Manchester United in the 2008 final and for Real Madrid in the 2014 and 2017 finals.
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Ronaldo's eight hat-tricks in the Champions League is a record he shares with another prolific scorer in the competition, Lionel Messi. However, the Portugal captain's 66 goals in the knockout stage of the Champions League is 18 clear of Messi's tally of 48.
On that note, let us have a look at three instances where Ronaldo left his indelible imprint on a Champions League tie:
#3: 2013-14 Semi-final 2nd leg: Bayern Munich 0:4 Real Madrid (Madrid won 5-0 on aggregate)
After three successive semi-final exits in 2011 (Barcelona), 2012 (Bayern Munich), and 2013 (Borussia Dortmund) respectively, Real Madrid rode on a solitary Karim Benzema strike in the first-leg at home to give the Spanish side a slender lead ahead of their semi-final second-leg away at Bayern Munich.
It was then that Cristiano Ronaldo took over and erased memories of Madrid's painful penalty shootout defeat at home against the same side two years ago.
After Sergio Ramos scored a brace, Ronaldo put the tie beyond doubt with a brace of his own. The Portugal captain netted his first of the night midway through the first half and followed it up with a sumptuous free-kick in the dying embers of the game as Madrid recorded their biggest away win at Bayern Munich to reach their first Champions League final in 12 years.
Madrid would go on to lift their much-awaited 'La Decima' in the final against cross-town rivals Atletico Madrid.
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#2: 2015-16 Quarter-final 2nd leg: Real Madrid 3:0 Wolfsburg (Madrid won 3-2 on aggregate)
Real Madrid looked in danger of an early exit when they lost 2-0 away in the first leg of their Champions League Round of 16 tie with Wolfsburg in 2015-16.
Not for the first time, it was Cristiano Ronaldo who took the onus of leaving his mark on the tie after having scored hat-tricks against Shakhtar Donetsk and Malmo (quadruple) earlier in the season.
A close-range finish was followed by a glancing header as Madrid were back on level terms within 17 minutes. Wolfsburg did well to hang around with the home side for almost an hour but just as the tie was moving towards extra time, Ronaldo intervened.
A free-kick 13 minutes from time bulged the Wolfsburg net for the third time on the night as Ronaldo's third Champions League hat-trick of the campaign, and fifth overall, helped Real Madrid overturn a 2-0 first-leg deficit and reach their sixth consecutive semi-final in the Champions League.
#3: 2018-19 Round of 16 2nd leg: Juventus 3:0 Atletico Madrid (Juventus won 3-2 on aggregate)
Trailing 0-2 from the first leg of their Round of 16 clash with Atletico Madrid in the 2018-19 UEFA Champions League, Juventus needed to look no further than their 34-year old Portuguese marksman Cristiano Ronaldo for inspiration.
Two headers either side of half-time break tripled his Champions League goal-tally for his new club as the Bianconeri were on level terms for the first time in the tie. Ronaldo then entered Juventus folklore by converting from the spot eight minutes from time to give an aggregate lead which the Serie A side defended astutely en route to registering a 3-2 aggregate win.
In the process, Ronaldo equalled Lionel Messi's record of eight Champions League hat-tricks and also became the oldest player to net a hat-trick in the competition.