Cristiano Ronaldo’s Champions League challenges
Ronaldo began his eighth Champions League season with Real Madrid against Sporting Lisbon aiming to be in the final in Cardiff, but with one eye on a host of personal records.
European football returned to the Santiago Bernabéu on Wednesday night as Real Madrid began the defence of their Champions League title against Sporting Lisbon, the club where it all started for club icon Cristiano Ronaldo.
And what a start it was for the Portuguese player, Ronaldo scoring a stunning free-kick to put Real Madrid level at 1-1 in the 89th minute, before Morata grabbed the winner for Zidan's side deep into injury time.
Ronaldo's eighth Champions League with Real Madrid
This year’s competition will be Cristiano’s fourteenth Champions League, his eighth with Real Madrid. During almost a decade and a half among Europe’s elite, the Portuguese forward has broken record after record and, aside from winning the competition three times, has been named Europe’s best player on numerous occasions.
It might seem as if there is little he could do to surpass himself yet again but there are five new personal targets, aside from winning it all again, that he can set himself ahead of this year’s competition.
Reach 100 Champions League goals
Cristiano is currently the top scorer in Champions League history, having scored 93 goals to Leo Messi’s 86 (taking into account his hat-trick on Tuesday night against Celtic). The Real Madrid man could well reach the century of goals this season; he’s scored at least 10 Champions League goals in each of the last 5 seasons.
Take home a 6th top goal scorer award
Cristiano has been top scorer in every Champions League since 2012-13, though in 2014-15 he shared the title with Messi and Neymar (10 goals each). He was also named top scorer in 2008, when he won Europe’s premier club competition for the very first time while at Manchester United with Sir Alex Ferguson.
Beat his own record of 17 goals in a season
Among his many accolades Cristiano holds the record for the most Champions goals scored in a single Champions League: 17. He hit the mark during Real Madrid’s decima campaign in 2013-14. Last season he came just short, scoring 16, and he’ll be hoping to surpass himself this year.
Score 5 goals in a single game
Last season Cristiano hit 4 against Malmo, a match which held little significance but which he took advantage of to increase his goals tally. He’s never scored 5, however. That record belongs to Leo Messi and Luiz Adriano. Messi scored 5 in Barcelona’s knock-out tie against Bayer Leverkusen in 2012-13 while Adriano achieved the same feat for Shakhtar against BATE Borisov in 2014-15.
While he’s never scored 5 in a Champions League game, Cristiano has done so twice in the league: once against Granada in April 2015 and again against Espanyol five months later.
Challenge Messi for the title of ‘hat-trick king’
Before last night, Cristiano and Messi shared the record for the most Champions League hat-tricks with 5. Following his impressive treble in Barcelona’s 7-0 thrashing of Celtic, the Argentine has now moved on to 6. Cristiano has some catching up to do.
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