Cristiano Ronaldo’s greatest performances in the Champions League

    Five Ballons d’Or, five Champions Leagues and just the hundreds of career goals. He’s not bad, that Cristiano Ronaldo fella.

    Dominating as the main event man wherever he’s been, Ronaldo has never just let his domestic success define his brilliance. Ronaldo has graced the European stage with his excellence throughout his career, sweeping up honours and accolades, while putting in performances that define his unworldly abilities on the field.

    As you’d expect, there have been quite a lot of good Ronaldo performances in the Champions League. A list of 30 simply doesn’t do this man the justice he deserves, but we’ve given it a go.

    Cristiano Ronaldo

    Ronaldo won his first Champions League with United / Alex Livesey/Getty Images

    In a game remembered for a dramatic penalty shootout and not the 120 minutes of regulation time, Ronaldo’s efforts deserve a mention.

    Despite missing from the spot, it was Ronaldo who scored for Manchester United in normal time. Scoring in a European final is an immense feat, and was made that bit sweeter knowing his side were crowned champions.

    Crisitiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi

    Ronaldo prevailed as the rivalry was reignited / David Ramos/Getty Images

    Two penalties? Sure. But you’ve still got to put them away, and you can count on CR7 to do that in his sleep.

    Mr. Reliable in times of pressure, missing either of those two spot kicks could’ve let Barcelona in for a win. Simplistic yet ruthless, his composure was enough to steer Juve to a handy group stage victory.

    Cristiano Ronaldo, Jose Mourinho

    Jose Mourinho embraces Ronaldo following their game against Tottenham / Jasper Juinen/Getty Images

    The damage was done for Spurs in the 2010/11 quarter final when they were thrashed 4-0 in the first leg at the Santiago Bernabeu.

    Ronaldo scored in that first leg and added insult to injury to ensure Real came away with two wins from the tie, scoring the only goal in the second. Sure, Heurelho Gomes had a mare, but it was still clutch.


    Easy mate / JAVIER SORIANO/Getty Images

    A lethal partnership with Gareth Bale was in full stride as the duo melted through the Yellow Wall that was Borussia Dortmund.

    Despite Bale’s thunderous opener, it was Ronaldo’s brace that importantly secured group stage points for Los Blancos, with his second coming after Dortmund had halved the deficit.

    Cristiano Ronaldo

    Don’t bother leaping with him / Chris Brunskill Ltd/Getty Images

    Ramping up his input as the competition headed into business territory, a textbook header opened the scoring in Paris to help Real on their way into the last eight.

    Stalks the cross like a hawk and preys on the ball with a leap from the heavens. Vintage Ronaldo.

    Cristiano Ronaldo

    Ronaldo clutched to end a goal drought / Power Sport Images/Getty Images

    How do you end a seven month Champions League goal drought? Bag a match-winning brace, of course.

    After Bayern Munich had taken the lead in the 2016/17 quarter final, the Portugal international turned the game on its head with a two goal comeback, taking him to 100 European club goals in the process.

    Cristiano Ronaldo

    Ronaldo’s efforts weren’t enough to stop a defeat / Jasper Juinen/Getty Images

    A brace from Ronaldo was enough to drag Madrid out from the dead and pull them into a penalty shootout to determine who would make the 2012 final.

    Real lost the unique tie breaker, but again it was Ronaldo’s individual excellence on show to overturn the first leg defeat and put them in within 12 yards of making the final.

    Clarence Seedorf, Cristiano Ronaldo

    Clarence Seedorf battles with Ronaldo / Etsuo Hara/Getty Images

    Ronaldo’s goal in a nervy victory for Manchester United was shadowed by a highlights reel performance for Milan’s Kaka.

    But despite the Brazilian’s excellence, the Portuguese deserves credit for an impressive display of his own which was key to ensuring United held onto a win.

    Cristiano Ronaldo

    Just not enough. / Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images

    His move to Juventus hasn’t yielded European success for the Old Lady, but there have still been some trademark performances for Juventus in the Champions League.

    The Bianconeri had a one goal deficit to turn around following football’s resumption amid the COVID-19 pandemic and Ronaldo tried his very best to combat it. He bagged a brace, but it just wasn’t enough to stop Lyon scoring and heading into the quarter final.

    UEFA Champions League - Ajax v Real Madrid

    Ronaldo starred in a sponsor-less Real Madrid kit / VI-Images/Getty Images

    A performance that gets lost in the depths of the group stages, Real dominated a rather impressive Ajax side away from home in 2012/13.

    Karim Benzema’s inch perfect bicycle kick was cruelly overshadowed by a hat-trick from Ronaldo. A poacher’s tap in, a curled effort straight from FIFA and an obscene dink. Vicious.

    Cristiano Ronaldo, Nemanja Vidic, Patrice Evra

    It’s okay to cry, United fans. Let it out. / Jasper Juinen/Getty Images

    United fans felt severe pain that same season, later on in the competition.

    A controversial straight red card for Nani saw United facing a steep hill to climb, and the knife was twisted when who else’s goal but Ronaldo’s proved to be the winner at Old Trafford. That one still hurts now.

    Gennaro Gattuso, Cristiano Ronaldo, Kevin Prince Boateng, Howard Webb

    How to stop Ronaldo? Set Gennaro Gattuso on him / Giuseppe Bellini/Getty Images

    Not even the unlimited amounts of sauce that AC Milan’s Ronaldinho could provide was enough to deflect Real into a path of defeat in the group stages.

    It was Ronaldo who stepped up when it mattered, with a free-kick deflecting in to put his side in the driving seat ahead of the knockout stages. Dead ball expert.

    Cristiano Ronaldo

    Ah yes, CR9 there. Not weird at all… / Etsuo Hara/Getty Images

    Despite spending infinite amounts of money on players like Ronaldo to try and create a squad of galacticos once more, FC Zurich gave Real Madrid a group stage scare in 2009/10.

    A fabulous free-kick in the first half wasn’t enough, so Ronaldo – wearing number nine – put a second on the goalkeeper in the dying embers of the game. The keeper fumbled and Ronaldo had his brace of free-kicks confirmed.

    Cristiano Ronaldo

    Thanks for coming guys / Denis Doyle/Getty Images

    Four goals, Cristiano? That’s insane.

    Also threw himself an assist in there too, because why not? A four goal haul helped record the club’s biggest ever win in the Champions League and saw Ronaldo become the first player to bag 11 group stage goals. Also overshadowed a Karim Benzema hat-trick; he likes doing that.


    Never in doubt… / SERGEI SUPINSKY/Getty Images

    A proper bonkers group stage contest providing some box office level Gazprom, complete with some standard Ronaldo magic. What more could you want?

    Two goals and two assists from the Portuguese icon proved vital as Shakhtar burst into life and scored three goals in the game’s closing stages to put Real to the sword and test their bottle.

    Cristiano Ronaldo

    Pain for his future employers / Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

    Long before the days of a transfer nobody really saw coming, Ronaldo was scoring goals against Juventus as Real searched for European success.

    A coolly taken chip gave Real the lead, before a trademark spot kick secured victory. Clutch performance.

    Cristiano Ronaldo

    Doubling up won’t do much, unfortunately / Burak Kara/Getty Images

    With Los Blancos on the warpath against the Turkish heavyweights, Cristiano Ronaldo saw an opportunity for a goal haul.

    On his way to scoring a ridiculous 17 Champions League goals that season, he punished Gala for not taking their chances and bagged a hat-trick, the third goal of which saw him send the hosts’ defence to the shops with sore ankles. Ridiculous skill.

    Cristiano Ronaldo

    The header would become a trademark feature / Alex Livesey/Getty Images

    Having ripped them apart at Old Trafford a season earlier, United travelled to Rome this time to inflict some further punishment.

    Having no luck outside the box with his usual bag of tricks, Ronaldo went unorthodox and put together a gravity-defying leap to hang in the air infinitely and head home a cross to give United the lead. At the time it was seriously uncharacteristic and equally as magnificent, but would soon become a regular weapon in his arsenal.

    Champions League - FC Schalke 04 v Real Madrid CF

    Real ran riot in Germany / VI-Images/Getty Images

    There was something mightily strong in Ronaldo’s cereal in 2013/14. His 17 Champions League goals showcased some frightening form, which Schalke felt the brunt of.

    Gareth Bale’s brace in his debut season was electric, but matched by the master as Ronaldo bagged two fine goals of his own to put the tie to bed in the first leg.

    Pepe, Fabio Coentrao, Cristiano Ronaldo

    Another Champions League in the bag / Jean Catuffe/Getty Images

    There is no greater stage to clutch up on than in the final of the Champions League.

    Doing so against your club’s local rivals, too? Even sweeter. Ronaldo didn’t have the strongest game and had to wait until the floodgates had opened to register his goal and assist, but rest assured he did. That final wasn’t ending without his mark being left on it.

    Jerome Boateng, Cristiano Ronaldo

    Just save your legs, Jerome. Stop chasing. / Paul Gilham/Getty Images

    While Ronaldo’s final wasn’t him at his dominant best, his performance in the last four was, which was key in seeing Real through.

    Rounding off a counter attack to make it 3-0 before half time, Ronaldo wasn’t done there and took the proverbial out of Bayern in the dying embers, blasting a free-kick under the wall and beyond Manuel Neuer. Ice cold.

    Cristaiano Ronaldo

    CR7 scored a tasty low shot / Alex Livesey/Getty Images

    Ronaldo’s performance against Roma in 2007 was one of several star showings for United that evening.

    While Michael Carrick was putting up unworldly levels of dominance, Ronaldo was strutting his stuff on the big stage, sitting down defenders and tying them up in knots before showing his range with a fine brace.

    Yuri Berchiche

    Two legs of excellence / Power Sport Images/Getty Images

    Having already left his mark on the first leg, Ronaldo wanted a little more when PSG came to the Bernabeu in hope of a comeback.

    His brace pulled Real back from behind and made him the first player to score 100 Champions League goals with the same club.

    Cristiano Ronaldo

    Ronaldo loves the big stage / Power Sport Images/Getty Images

    Poor Atleti just have no luck against their city rivals in European competition.

    In the first leg of the semi final, Ronaldo went in. A hat-trick on the grandest stage of them all – except WrestleMania – was yet another reminder that this man is not from the same planet as the common man.

    Cristiano Ronaldo

    Ronaldo balled out in his final season with Real / Power Sport Images/Getty Images

    On his way to winning a fifth Champions League, the five-time Ballon d’Or winner gave a little present to his future employers.

    The present? Dumping them out of the competition again and doing so with the most picture-perfect overhead kick you could imagine. Sorry Juve, he’ll make it up to you in a few months. Not with a Champions League, though.

    Cristiano Ronaldo

    Comeback king / Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

    We’re getting into serious ice in the veins, peak Gazprom territory now.

    Having fallen victim to a shock 2-0 defeat in Germany, Ronaldo stepped up to the task in the second leg. Tuning up the band for a frenzied Bernabeu crowd, Ronaldo’s hat-trick dragged Real into the semi-final. Obscene.

    Cristiano Ronaldo

    One last hurrah with United / Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

    Having already become a European champion with United, things were getting a little too good for United fans’ liking with Ronaldo at the club.

    By that, we mean he was morphing into superstardom and the move to Real Madrid felt more inevitable than ever. That feeling peaked most when he put in a spellbinding performance at the Emirates to fire United into the 2009 final, bagging a ridiculously long range free-kick and then a second on the counter. Stop being so obnoxiously good. Please.


    A picture speaks a thousand words / CURTO DE LA TORRE/Getty Images

    Loves a game against Bayern Munich, doesn’t he?

    Extra time was needed to find a semi-finalist as Bayern weren’t keen on letting Real produce a comeback, but the nerve of Ronaldo proved strongest as his hat-trick fired Los Blancos into the quarter final against the odds. Not a surprise at this point.

    Thomas Teye, Cristiano Ronaldo

    New league, but still a way to torment Atletico / Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Images

    After bringing him to the club for almost £100m in an attempt to finally become European champions once more, Ronaldo proved his worth, but not in ideal circumstances.

    At risk of being dumped out in the last 16 by Atleti, Ronaldo turned up the heat in the second leg and banged a hat-trick past his former employers’ city rivals, treating Juventus fans to the magic they’d been missing for years. It wasn’t enough to drag them all the way, but again showed his tireless ability to drag teams in from the cold.

    Cristiano Ronaldo

    No sweat off his back. / Matthias Hangst/Getty Images

    Having worked tirelessly to finally reach the final once again, a seriously well built Juventus side fell victim to the inevitable.

    Ronaldo opened the scoring after 20 minutes, and while Mario Mandzukic levelled the tie seven minutes later, it wasn’t enough. Real smelt blood and when Casemiro restored the lead after an hour, Ronaldo put the game to bed with his second by making it three. Game over. The fourth was a bonus.

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