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5 Cristiano Ronaldo hat-tricks that changed the course of football history

Cristiano Ronaldo has scored 56 hat-tricks in his career.
Cristiano Ronaldo has scored 56 hat-tricks in his career.
Elvis Ume O
ANALYST
Modified 13 Jan 2021, 10:04 IST
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Cristiano Ronaldo is arguably one of the greatest players to have graced the game.

His penchant for scoring goals is almost unmatched, and he is currently the joint-highest scoring player in the history of the game. Given his huge affinity for scoring goals, it comes as no surprise that Cristiano Ronaldo has scored numerous hat-tricks throughout his career.


Five most memorable Cristiano Ronaldo hat-tricks

The 35-year-old has scored three or more goals in a match on 56 occasions in club and international football, doing so once for Manchester United, twice for Juventus, nine times for Portugal and 44 times for Real Madrid.

Some of these hat-tricks came in relatively low-profile fixtures, while others came on the biggest stage in games that decided the outcome of major trophies.

On that note, let us have a look at five Cristiano Ronaldo hat-tricks that changed the course of football history.


#1 Sweden 2-3 Portugal; 19 November, 2013 (Friends Arena, Solna)

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Cristiano Ronaldo scored a hat-trick to help Portugal qualify for the 2014 World Cup.
Cristiano Ronaldo scored a hat-trick to help Portugal qualify for the 2014 World Cup.

Cristiano Ronaldo and his eternal rival Lionel Messi are separated by just one Ballon d'Or award, with fans and pundits divided about who is the better player of the two.

While it might be difficult to imagine now, there was a time when Messi had a 4-1 lead on his Portuguese counterpart, and it seemed like journalists, pundits and even FIFA themselves were rooting for the Rosario native.

Many were seemingly put off by the former Real Madrid man's 'arrogance' and 'selfishness'. And try as he might, Cristiano Ronaldo could simply not add to his solitary Ballon d'Or award won in 2008. He toiled every year only to see Messi beat him to the prestigious award.

The viewpoint that the world held against Cristiano Ronaldo was buttressed by the then FIFA president Sepp Blatter, who stated his preference for Lionel Messi openly.

He called the Argentinian every parents' dream child, while he condescendingly referred to Cristiano Ronaldo as an 'onfield general' who spends more time in the saloon.

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That was a shocking thing to hear from a supposed impartial judge of football's governing body, and fans of the Portuguese saw this as ammunition to further fuel their conspiracy theory.

Sepp Blatter made disparaging comments about Cristiano Ronaldo.
Sepp Blatter made disparaging comments about Cristiano Ronaldo.

The media was flabbergasted, but amidst all the furore was an unfazed Cristiano Ronaldo who refused to respond but did his talking on the field.

A few weeks after Sepp Blatter made those uninformed comments, the Real Madrid legend delivered one of the most inspiring individual performances of his career.

He scored a hat-trick to down Zlatan Ibrahimovic's Sweden and almost single-handedly took his nation to the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

Almost immediately, an already embattled FIFA - who were facing massive corruption charges and needed to redeem their image - made the rather curious decision to extend the deadline for the Ballon d'Or votes.

They went one step further by allowing voters to change their initial votes if they so desired. That was basically a form of rewarding Cristiano Ronaldo for his heroics against Sweden, and it came as no surprise when he finally won his second Ballon d'Or in 2014.

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There are unconfirmed reports that Lionel Messi was actually in pole position to claim a fifth Ballon d'Or on the trot before the deadline was extended.

Indeed, if the Barcelona talisman had gone 5-1 up over Cristiano Ronaldo, it is hard to imagine the Madeira native clawing back into contention despite his superhuman prowess.

However, his hat-trick against Sweden helped launch his period of dominance in the individual awards category, and eight years later, he is almost on an equal footing with his great rival.

The fact that Cristiano Ronaldo's performance helped Portugal qualify for the FIFA World Cup was a great feat in of itself, but it also helped re-instil confidence in the former Manchester United man's game.

In many ways, Cristiano Ronaldo's career was rejuvenated following that Ballon d'Or win, and he has arguably played the best football of his career since then.

It can be argued that all his achievements in the last eight years might not have come if he had not won that long-elusive second Ballon d'Or award, and it can all be traced back to his breathtaking display at the Friends Arena in Solna.

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#2 Real Madrid 3-0 Wolfsburg; 12 April, 2016 (Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid)

Cristiano Ronaldo almost single-handedly eliminated Wolfsburg from the Champions League.
Cristiano Ronaldo almost single-handedly eliminated Wolfsburg from the Champions League.

When Real Madrid were drawn against Wolfsburg in the quarter-final of the 2015-16 UEFA Champions League, it was seen as a relatively straightforward tie for Los Blancos.

At that point, the Spanish giants had the two most expensive players in their ranks - Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale - while their pedigree and history far outshone that of Wolfsbur's.

However, a stunning performance by an unplayable Julian Draxler helped the Bundesliga side record a shock 2-0 victory in the first leg. They travelled to the Bernabeu six days later full of confidence to get the job done.

Enter Cristiano Ronaldo. The Madeira native had other ideas and gave Real Madrid the quick start they needed when he converted in the six-yard box from a Dani Carvajal cross in the 15th minute.

Eighty seconds later, the tie was level, as the then 29-year-old rose highest to head home a corner by Toni Kroos to get the Los Blancos fans believing.

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From then on, it was a one-man show, as Cristiano Ronaldo tried to force the issue, and when he stood over a free-kick in the 77th minute, there was a sense of inevitability over the outcome.

The well-taken set-piece went past the Wolfsburg wall and beyond the dive of Koen Casteels much to the surprise of no one who knew what Cristiano Ronaldo was capable of.

Real Madrid eased past Manchester City in the semi-final before dispatching city rivals Atletico Madrid on penalties in the final.

A year later, they became the first side in history to retain the Champions League and made it a three-peat in 2018.

However, this stunning piece of history would not have been achieved had Cristiano Ronaldo not stepped up to the plate against Wolfsburg.

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Published 13 Jan 2021, 10:04 IST
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