Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane’s reaction said it all.
Hand to his head, a look of disbelief on his face at what he had just seen, he turned and bellowed his approval. As a player, the Frenchman scored plenty of stunning goals himself in Turin – but what he had just witnessed from Cristiano Ronaldo was special.
Ronaldo’s second goal for the Spanish giants in their 3-0 Champions League quarter-final first-leg victory at Juventus was one of the great strikes – the 33-year-old Portuguese rising almost unnaturally high before acrobatically firing the ball into the corner of the net with an incredible bicycle kick.
Seconds after the ball hit the net, the Juve fans followed Zidane’s lead, rising to applaud the man who has, in all likelihood, ended their interest in the Champions League for this season.
BBC Radio 5 live’s Pat Nevin, who was at the game, was equally stunned. “When the ball comes across to him you think: ‘Oh, you’re not going to try an overhead kick.’ And then, bang! Oh wow! Just see it, watch it,” said the former Scotland winger.
“It is unnatural. People are talking about how Ronaldo is getting a bit older now – but there is nothing wrong with that body if he can do that sort of thing. The timing of it is extraordinary, the imagination to do it is extraordinary.
“A lot of the Juventus fans stayed behind to applaud Ronaldo. To turn around this coliseum to his side – wow. Call it genius if you like.
“It is one of the great goals you will see in football.”
Ronaldo’s goalscoring stats…
- Ronaldo has scored 19 goals in his past nine games for Real – 25 in his past 13 for club and country.
- He has scored 39 goals in 36 games for Real this season – more goals than anyone else who plays in one of Europe’s top five leagues (England, France, Germany, Italy and Spain).
- The Portuguese has scored in his past 10 Champions League games – all nine this season and last year’s final – netting 16 times in that run.
- Ronaldo is the Champions League’s all-time top scorer with 119 – 19 clear of Barcelona’s Lionel Messi.
- He has scored nine of his past 11 shots on target against legendary goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon.
- Ronaldo has scored the first Real Madrid goal of a Champions League game in 10 of the past 14 games.
- He has scored 22 goals in Champions League quarter-finals, one more than Juventus. Only five teams, including Real Madrid, have scored more.
- Ronaldo has either scored (14) or assisted (three) 68% of Real’s 25 Champions League goals this season.
- He has scored in each of his six games against Juventus – nine goals in total. No player has more against a single opponent in the Champions League.
‘One of the great goals’
“It is one of those ones where you just say: ‘Oh, you’re just egging it up a bit, you’re exaggerating for pure commentary purposes,'” added Nevin.
“No, absolutely no. That is one of the great goals you will see… I was going to say Champions League football, but, basically, football.
“Talking about how high his foot is, when he goes for the kick there Mattia de Sciglio is jumping up to head the ball and Ronaldo’s foot is above his head. It has to be seven and a half feet.
“I would love to be able to tell you how to score a goal like that, but I never have. But if you don’t practise that and you try it in a game you can break your back. You need technique to get up and hit it – but you need to be able to land properly as well. He has all this in his mind and computes it in a millisecond. It is special.
“He knows how to time his form, usually when Real are looking to win something, like the Champions League. He also wants to win that Ballon d’Or. Normal humans don’t think along those lines on a football pitch, they think about how to win a game. But he is so far ahead.”
BBC World Service’s John Bennett said: “I don’t think he has scored a better goal than that.
“I remember the Porto one [for Manchester United in 2009]. It is how you judge great goals. The technique for that overhead kick makes it the greatest goal Ronaldo has ever scored.”
‘A Playstation goal’ – what they said
Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon: “Ronaldo is an extraordinary champion. Together with Lionel Messi, he is the only one that punctuates his team’s most important victories, and is to be compared to [Diego] Maradona and Pele.”
Juve defender Andrea Barzagli: “Cristiano made up the second goal. It’s a Playstation goal. When you come up against one of the best in the world like Ronaldo, you need to be perfect. If you give him any space, he’ll punish you. He scored a goal that will go down in history – and unfortunately it was against us.”
Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri: “I don’t know if Cristiano’s goal is the best in the history of football, but it’s certainly an extraordinary goal. You can only congratulate him for what he’s doing at present.”
Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane: “Cristiano Ronaldo is different. He’s a different player to everyone else and he always has this desire to do something extraordinary in the Champions League. He never rests on his laurels.
“His overhead kick was remarkable, yet he missed two much easier chances. That’s football.”
‘Ronaldo can now leave Earth’ – social media reaction
What you said on #bbcfootball…
Ed: I’ve always said Ronaldo’s the best ever. He can score any type of goal and he’d arguably be the top scorer in every major league.
Josh: Is there anything Cristiano Ronaldo can’t do? Not content with just being a goal machine he’s gone and scored arguably the greatest goal in the history of the Champions League too… Wow, I have actually ran out of superlatives to describe this man!!!
Simon: Yeah, Ronaldo is good, but has he ever scored on a rainy night in Sto- oh, he actually has…
Fabian: Dear ladies and gentlemen, if you ever had doubts that Ronaldo wasn’t the best player ever; please think again! WHAT A PLAYER!
‘My goal was better…’
His manager may have been impressed by Ronaldo’s goal, but we will leave the final say to Zidane, who also scored one of the great Champions League goals – a magnificent volley in the 2002 final for Real against Bayer Leverkusen.
Which goal was better he was asked…
“Oh mine! Definitely mine.”
Source: BBC NEWS