MUNICH (Reuters) - Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo may be on course for his worst domestic goal haul since 2010 but with two strikes against Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-final first leg on Wednesday he became the first player to score 100 goals in UEFA competitions.
Zinedine Zidane’s side drew with neighbours Atletico Madrid in La Liga on Saturday and looked likely to fall short again after being outplayed by Bayern in the first half before Ronaldo came to the rescue to seal a 2-1 win.
When Arturo Vidal headed the hosts into a 25th-minute lead, Bayern appeared on course for a 17th consecutive European home victory, but the game turned following Vidal’s missed penalty and Ronaldo equalised with a fine volley early in the second period.
Javi Martinez’s sending-off just after the hour mark handed Real the initiative, and the 32-year-old Ronaldo clinched Real’s victory when he beat Manuel Neuer after being picked out by Marco Asensio in the 77th minute.
While the Portugal forward has demonstrated an ability to win matches single-handedly throughout his career, his latest survival act came in an unfamiliar context having struggled to hit the lofty heights he sets himself in La Liga this season.
“Cristiano was unhappy because he couldn’t score a third, that’s how ambitious he is,” Zidane told reporters.
Despite an admirable 19 goals in 24 league appearances, Ronaldo looks unlikely to match the tallies he has managed in his last six seasons (40, 46, 34, 31, 48, 35). And he had previously gone 613 minutes of European football without finding the net - his longest drought for eight years.
Yet he delivered an outstanding second-half performance to reach 100 European goals, with 98 in the Champions League and two coming in Madrid’s 2-0 UEFA Super Cup victory over Sevilla in 2014.
Of Ronaldo’s haul in Europe’s top competition, he has managed 82 for Real, with the other 16 coming for Manchester United, and his double took him four goals ahead of Lionel Messi (94) in the race to become the first player to score 100 Champions League goals.
Real still have to fend off a likely Bayern fightback on Tuesday, but they remain on course to become the first team to retain the Champions League.
At this rate, you would not bet against Ronaldo reaching his century in the competition before the end of this campaign.
Reporting by Ed Dove, ediiting by Ed Osmond