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Cristiano hits the heights on a magical night


Three goals for Cristiano Ronaldo; three more in this man's immense Real Madrid career. A hat-trick on a testing night, when a slip-up would have been a catastrophe, that underlined the colossus he is: power, technique, scoring instincts and no little fire in his belly. Off the field, he led the rallying cries with his pre-match clarion call to the fans. On it, he led the way too: running his heart out, cajolling and urging on his team-mates, shooting - and hitting the net. He now has 16 in the Champions League this season; one off the record he himself set two years ago. He's up to 93 in total in the tournament, and his haul of 46 in all competitions this term sees him on course to surpass 50 for the sixth year in a row.

A footballer in that bracket is a lot for Wolfsburg to handle and, as the visitors sought to settle into the game, they found themselves on the end of two quickfire strikes from the Portuguese ace, in the 16th and 17th minutes. After that, Real took a breather and the Germans looked to come out, but never seemed up to putting Los Blancos in serious difficulties: all the more so when they lost their stand-out individual, Julian Draxler, to injury. Once he went off, there was no doubt about it: it was a matter of when Madrid's third would arrive. We were made to wait, but it was a case of delaying the inevitable, and arrive it did - in front of a jubilant crowd evoking the memory of so many great past comebacks.

The chants of Cómo no te voy a querer! ('How could I not love you!') reverberated around the stadium, together with Así, así, así gana el Madrid ('That's how Madrid win'), a song coined in Gijón to be used against Real, but adopted by the Bernabéu for just such occasions. Their echoes will, I'm certain, have reached the late Pedro De Felipe looking down on us from up above, a member of the 'ye-yé' side that lifted the club's sixth European Cup. It's almost half a century since then. Time goes by, but there are moments that bring old emotions flooding back once more in pure, unadulterated form. From time to time the Bernabéu treats us to a night like that, and those 50 years just melt away.