Fall head over heels over kick

Ronaldo gets standing ovation from Juventus fans as football world lauds his wonder goal

TURIN (Italy) • For a brief moment, there was stunned silence before applause broke out. In great blocks, Juventus fans rose to their feet in recognition of a sporting genius and it did not matter to them that he was their rival.

Cristiano Ronaldo had put Real Madrid in control of their Champions League quarter-final first-leg clash with an early close-range finish at Juventus Stadium. He now had them in sight of the next stage and, even by his standards, it was a jaw-dropping intervention.

When Dani Carvajal stood up a cross from the right, Ronaldo instinctively knew that the overhead kick was on.

He leapt, hung at high altitude and stretched before swivelling his hips and working a right-footed masterpiece beyond goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon from behind the penalty spot.

The crowd's reaction was almost as beautiful. When does this ever happen? In the heat of the moment, it felt unique and Ronaldo acknowledged the standing ovation - remarkably the first of his career at an away ground.

"For me it was an unbelievable moment," Ronaldo, having taken his goal tally against the Italian champions to eight in six games, said in a post-match interview after Real's 3-0 victory.


A sequence of three pictures showing Cristiano Ronaldo scoring a bicycle kick to put Real Madrid 2-0 up against Juventus in the Champions League quarter-final first leg. The Portuguese netted his team's opening goal while Marcelo scored the third in the 3-0 win. PHOTOS: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

"To be applauded by the Juventus stadium, where so many great footballers have played, is a top moment for me. It had never happened to me in my career before."

The plaudits continued long into the night and the morning after. Italian daily Corriere dello Sport described it as a "work of art" while Tuttosport said it was from "another planet".

"Cristiano made up the second goal," Juventus defender Andrea Barzagli said. "It's a PlayStation goal. It will go down in history."

His team-mates Buffon and Giorgio Chiellini are two of the greatest goal-stoppers of their generation, but they have never won the Champions League, and now they probably never will, because of Ronaldo.

Ronaldo's numbers are freakish and, at the age of 33, they show no sign of letting up.

The Portuguese has 25 goals in his last 14 games for club and country, he has scored in every Champions League tie this season and he leads the field for the competition's Golden Boot with 14.

He has scored plenty of classics. But in a high-stakes game, has he ever scored a better one? "It is one of the most beautiful goals in the history of the game," said Real manager Zinedine Zidane.

It was high praise coming from the France great who scored one of the competition's greatest goals, a volley against Bayer Leverkusen to clinch the 2002 Champions League trophy for the Spanish LaLiga side.

Juventus were broken. Paulo Dybala was sent off for a high boot on Carvajal, having previously been booked for diving and, when Ronaldo ushered in Marcelo for Real's third, it was all over.

The alarm bells had screeched beforehand. Juventus had not lost since Nov 19 and were beaten only once at home in the previous 75 matches in all competitions.

They also had a score to settle from last term's Champions League 4-1 final humbling.

But in the end, though, one man stood above the collective. No player has scored more Champions League goals than Ronaldo (119) and no player has won the competition more times than him (four).

"This is our competition," the 33-year-old said.

Juventus will need a miracle in the return leg to progress and with Ronaldo's big-game pedigree, it is increasingly hard to look past the holders as favourites for a record third straight Champions League and 13th overall European crown.

REACTIONS

"Greatness! Don't be comparing @cristiano overhead kick to @waynerooney's vs Man City which came off his shin."

RIO FERDINAND, former Manchester United defender.


"It was a PlayStation goal. He made up a goal that will go down in history. It's too bad it came against us."

ANDREA BARZAGLI, Juventus defender, who Ronaldo evaded to execute the strike.


"Are You Not Entertained!?!?! @cristiano That's just not even fair. Nasty!!"

LEBRON JAMES, National Basketball Association star.

In the other quarter-final on Tuesday, Bayern Munich became the first German team to win at Sevilla after a 2-1 comeback win in Spain, courtesy of an own goal by Jesus Navas and Thiago Alcantara.

Pablo Sarabia had drawn first blood for the home side.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE GUARDIAN, THE TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 05, 2018, with the headline 'Fall head over heels over kick'. Print Edition | Subscribe